Irish Republican News · November 2, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
British hold talks with UDA

British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy today met representatives of the unionist paramilitary UDA today in a bid to re-engage the violent pro-British organisation in the peace process.

Mr Murphy held talks with the Ulster Political Research Group, which provides political analysis to the UDA.

Since 1998, the UDA has also been involved in continuing sectarian and racist attacks, as well as several feuds, both internally and with rival paramilitary organisations.

Today’s delegation included notorious UDA paramilitary Andre Shoukri, as well as known UDA/UPRG figures Tommy Kirkham, Frank McCoubrey and Frankie Gallagher.

The meeting was billed as the most important between the British government and the UDA since the Good Friday Agreement.

Sinn Féin’s Mr Alex Maskey said while his party welcomed dialogue, Mr Murphy had to make it clear that racial and sectarian attacks must end and drug dealing must stop. The South Belfast MLA also said people were tired of loyalists moaning about the raw deal their communities had supposedly got since the ceasefires. “Deprivation and poverty exist not just in the loyalist community,” he said.

“We would like to see taskforces working in the community which would be directly answerable to the Secretary of State but would also deal with issues on the ground,” Mr Ervine said. “These taskforces would deal with issues of maximum importance to Protestant working class communities such as education, health, dealing with juvenile pregnancies, drug and alcohol problems and the high incidences of mental health difficulties in Northern Ireland.”

Yesterday, Mr Murphy met the leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, Mr David Ervine. Afterwards the East Belfast Assembly member, whose party is linked to the rival paramilitary UVF, said Mr Murphy had shown interest in his proposals for taskforces to be set up in Protestant working class communities to address a range of socio-economic problems.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News