Irish Republican News · November 12, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: BRITAIN BACKS UDA CEASEFIRE
BRITAIN BACKS UDA CEASEFIRE

The British government tonight again recognised the UDA to be abiding by its professed ceasefire, three years after it was declared meaningless.

British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy said he had received assurances that the unionist paramilitary group would end its campaign of violence.

He said: “I am persuaded that UDA is now prepared to go down a different road, moving away from its paramilitary past.”

The UDA has concentrated on drugs and racketeering in recent years, but has continued to mount attacks against Catholics, rival paramilitary organisations and increasingly, ethnic minorities.

Earlier this month Mr Murphy held talks with members of the UDA’s “inner council”, including Andre Shoukri and Jackie McDonald.

Murphy was asked for 3 million pounds to help the UDA establish security firms and provide jobs to its members. That meeting apparently convinced Murphy to give the UDA another opportunity.

Three years ago, a series of murders led Murphy’s predecessor, John Reid, to end recognition of the UDA’s 1994 ceasefire declaration. Members of the group, released under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, faced the possiblity of being returned to jail. That threat has now been removed.

A major announcement from the UDA is expected in return for the recognition, which takes effect from midnight on Sunday.

“My decision, reached only after the most careful consideration, is based on a number of factors, in line with the legislation,” Mr Murphy said.

“They include the UDA’s reaffirmation in February this year of its Gregg Initiative, when it re-stated its commitment to its ceasefire; the organisation’s generally constructive approach during this year’s marching season; and some diminution in paramilitary activity by its members over the past six months.”

Bu he said the UDA continued to be involved in “a range of unacceptable activities”, which he said must be brought to an end.

Sinn Féin policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly said that while any move would be welcome, it would only be judged against the ending of the UDA’s sectarian and racist campaign of violence and intimidation.

© 2004 Irish Republican News