Irish Republican News · January 23, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: British govt discusses violence with UDA group
British govt discusses violence with UDA group

The unionist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association cannot seriously be considered to be on ceasefire, the British government has admitted.

British Minister Jane Kennedy blamed the UDA for recent hoax bombs across Belfast and attacks on prison officers' homes at a meeting with the Ulster Political Research Group, which represents the UDA in political circles.

``We will work with those who want to engage in democratic politics, but there can be no place for paramilitary activities,'' she said.

``The recent attacks on the homes of prison officers or the hoax bombs at schools and elsewhere in the city and criminal activity - none of that is acceptable.''

Mrs Kennedy said the UPRG accepted that such activity undermined it.

``They wanted to speak to me specifically about the situation at Maghaberry prison and we discussed that.''

A series of security alerts which brought parts of Belfast to a standstill last week returned to the city today.

The UDA said last weeks hoaxes and alerts were in response to the situation at Maghaberry prison in County Antrim where loyalist prisoners were behind a riot in protest on the issue of segregation from republican prisoners.

UPRG spokesman Jackie McDonald said emotions were running high over the prisons issue.

``There's no one particular person or group responsible for all the actions, but (Ms Kennedy) is right - there's no place for the pipe bomb in politics,'' said the senior loyalist.

`ACCEPTABLE VIOLENCE'

The UDA ceasefire has not been recognised by the British government since October 2001 when it was declared over following a series of sectarian pipe bombings and murders.

But Sinn Féin has accused the British government of tolerating an `acceptable level of UDA violence'.

Assembly member Paul Butler said yesterday that the British government response to the recent wave of UDA violence has been ``virtually nil''.

``The fact is that since the UDA was formed the British government has tolerated and in many cases encouraged its activities.

``They did not ban the organisation until 1992 despite its involvement in a murder campaign against Catholics over a 20 year period.

``In the late 1980's through their agent Brian Nelson they rearmed the UDA and handed it thousands of intelligence files. They created a well armed murder machine and unleashed it on the nationalist and catholic population. British agents still remain at the very top of the UDA and UFF.

``Maybe this is the reason behind Britain's softly softly approach to the activities of the UDA. Certainly it is very obvious that the British government have a tolerance of what they view as an acceptable level of loyalist violence and activity.''

© 2004 Irish Republican News