Irish Republican News · May 3, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: UVF issue statement on new role
UVF issue statement on new role

The unionist paramilitary UVF has said it “will assume a non-military, civilianised, role” from midnight and claimed that its arms have been “put beyond reach”.

The statement may indeed end the UVF’s campaign of sectarian murder and crime, and has been largely welcomed.

However, doubts remain about the group’s true intentions, and reservations have been expressed by the IICD arms body about the UVF’s failure to engage with them in weapons decommissioning.

In its statement this morning, the leadership claimed recruitment, “military training” and targeting had stopped and all its so-called active service units deactivated.

The statement, which was read out by one of the UVF’s senior members Gusty Spence, said: “We have taken the above measures in an earnest attempt to augment the return of accountable democracy to the people of Northern Ireland and, as such, to engender confidence that the constitutional question has now been firmly settled.”

The UVF said the move was being made against “a backdrop of increasing community acceptance that the mainstream republican offensive has ended; that the six principles upon which our ceasefire was predicated are maintained; that the principle of consent has been firmly established and thus, that the Union remains safe.”

The UVF also called on “violent [republican] dissidents” to “desist immediately” and warned that “failure to do so will inevitably provoke another generation of loyalists towards armed resistance”.

While most of its victims have been innocent Catholics, the group also colluded with British forces to target genuine republicans.

The UVF declared a ceasefire in 1994, just after the Provisional IRA’s first cessation, as part of the process which led towards the April 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.

But the organisation, which has been responsible for hundreds of murders and some of the worst atrocities in the conflict, continued to kill.

Speaking this morning about UVF decommissioning, a spokesperson from the IICD said the UVF’s action on arms as declared in its statement this morning “does not meet the requirement of the decommissioning legislation and the agreement reached by the parties in the Belfast Agreement.

“We are prepared to meet with the UVF representative to discuss how we can work together in dealing with arms.”

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said his party had never pushed for UVF decommissioning but that “silenced weapons” was what was important in this “step-by-step process”.

Sinn Féin Assembly group leader John O’Dowd said the UVF statement will be judged by what the UVF actually do next.

“This is a welcome statement if it signals a recognition of the new political reality where there is no room for armed or violent actions,” he said.

“It will be judged by what the UVF actually do next.

“While engagement with de Chastelain is welcome, there is no commitment to removing UVF guns from Irish politics.

“People who have been the victim of the UVF campaigns across the north, particularly the sectarian campaigns in places like north Antrim, will want to see an end to their violence on the ground.”

The following is the full test of the statement issued this morning in the name of “the Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commando Command Staff”.

Following a direct engagement with all units and departments of our organisation, the leadership of the Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commando today make public the outcome of our three-year consultation process.

We do so against a backdrop of increasing community acceptance that the mainstream republican offensive has ended; that the six principles upon which our ceasefire was predicated are maintained; that the principle of consent has been firmly established and thus, that the Union remains safe.

We welcome recent developments in securing stable, durable democratic structures in Northern Ireland and accept as significant, support by the mainstream republican movement of the constitutional status quo.

Commensurate with these developments, as of twelve midnight, Thursday May 3 2007, the Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commando will assume a non-military, civilianised, role.

To consolidate this fundamental change in outlook we have addressed the methodology of transformation from a military to civilian organisation by implementing the following measures in every operational and command area:

:: All recruitment has ceased;

:: Military training has ceased;

:: Targeting has ceased and all intelligence rendered obsolete;

:: All Active Service Units have been de activated;

:: All Ordnance has been put beyond reach and the IICD instructed :: accordingly.

We encourage our volunteers to embrace the challenges which continue to face their communities and support their continued participation in non-military capacities. We reaffirm our opposition to all criminality and instruct our volunteers to cooperate fully with the lawful authorities in all possible instances.

Moreover, we state unequivocally, that any volunteer engaged in criminality does so in direct contravention of Brigade Command and thus we welcome any recourse through due process of law. All volunteers are further encouraged to show support for credible restorative justice projects so that they, with their respective communities, may help eradicate criminality and anti-social behaviour in our society.

We ask the government to facilitate this process and remove the obstacles which currently prevent our volunteers and their families from assuming full and meaningful citizenship.

We call on all violent dissidents to desist immediately and urge all relevant governments and their security apparatus to deal swiftly and efficiently with this threat. Failure to do so will inevitably provoke another generation of loyalists towards armed resistance.

We have taken the above measures in an earnest attempt to augment the return of accountable democracy to the people of Northern Ireland and as such, to engender confidence that the constitutional question has now been firmly settled.

In doing so we reaffirm the legitimacy of our tactical response to violent nationalism, yet reiterate the sincere expression of abject and true remorse to all innocent victims of the conflict.

Brigade Command salutes the dedication and fortitude of our officers, NCOs and volunteers throughout the difficult, brutal years of armed resistance. We reflect with honour on those from our organisation who made the ultimate sacrifice; those who endured long years of incarceration and the loyal families who shared their suffering and supported them throughout.

Finally we convey our appreciation for the honest forthright exchange with officers, NCOs and volunteers throughout the organisation over the past three years which has allowed us to assume with confidence the position we adopt today.

For God and Ulster

Captain William Johnston; Adjutant.

© 2007 Irish Republican News