Sinn Fein links handgun to loyalists

Sinn Fein claims last night's discovery of a handgun in north Belfast is linked to a loyalist murder bid on one of its leading members.

Sinn Fein claims last night's discovery of a handgun in north Belfast is linked to a loyalist murder bid on one of its leading members.

Police found the gun in the back garden of a house in Elmfield Street in the Ardoyne area, next door to the home of the party's South Antrim election candidate Martin Meehan.

The discovery was made after earlier warnings that there were pipe bombs in the area.

Last week, shots were fired at the homes of two of Mr Meehan's sons, prompting speculation that loyalists or dissident republicans were involved.

Sinn Fein's North Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly is in no doubt that it was an attempt by the largest loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association, to kill Mr Meehan.

He said: "I'm calling on the RUC to tell us what the ballistics report on this weapon is because I believe it will be found to be loyalist".

John White, chairman of the Ulster Democratic Party, which has links to the UDA, denied the organisation was involved in recent paramilitary attacks.

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