20 March 2006

Weapons priest in move to stop feud

Sunday Life

Stephen Breen
19 March 2006

The priest who witnessed IRA decommissioning is set to mediate in the bitter feud between two west Belfast families.

Senior sources told Sunday Life that community leaders in the Ballymurphy area have made an approach to Fr Alex Reid in a bid to end ongoing tensions between the Devlin and Notorantonio families.

Fr Reid, who last year apologised after controversially likening unionists to Nazis, helped end the violent feud between the INLA and the IPLO in 1987.

And it is hoped he will meet with representatives from the rival factions in Ballymurphy over the coming weeks.

Since the murder of Gerard Devlin last month, there has been a series of shootings, petrol bombings and arson attacks.

Tensions remain high in the west Belfast estate and fears are growing that lives could be lost.

Local community leaders and politicians have failed to bring the feuding families together and are becoming increasingly concerned at the recent spate of tit-for-tat attacks.

But they are hoping Fr Reid, who also helped end feuds between the Provisional and Official IRA in the 1970s, can bring the feud to an end.

Said a source: "Fr Reid has been approached and is only to happy to do his best to help end tensions in the Ballymurphy area.

"He is someone who is well respected by everyone in west Belfast and he has a wealth of experience in bringing rival factions round the table.

"He has met with one of the families and he is now going to put his plan to the other family in the hope they can come to some sort of solution.

"Many people feel the situation will get worse unless the problems between the two families are sorted out once and for all."

Victor Notorantonio, whose relatives' homes have been petrol bombed, confirmed that Fr Reid was attempting to end tensions.

Said Mr Notorantonio: "I have already met Fr Reid and he has spoken to me about meeting representatives of the Devlin family.

"I would have no problem doing this and I'm now waiting for him to get back to me. I'm pleased he's got involved because nobody else seems to be doing anything about it.

"Fr Reid is highly respected and if he can help end the attacks against my family then I would welcome his input."

"Everybody says this is a family feud but it's not. The IRA is doing this and they could put a stop to these attacks at the drop of a hat."

No-one from the Devlin family was available for comment.

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