UVF specified; Orange Order moves to fringe
UVF specified; Orange Order moves to fringe

The British government has confirmed that it no longer recognises the UVF ceasefire. However, it is continuing to claim that the largest unionist paramilitary organisation, the UDA, is abiding by a ceasefire.

British Direct Ruler Peter Hain finally admitted the UVF’s involvement in a bloody feud, in which two paramilitary rivals and two civilans were killed, and attacks on nationalists in which a 15-year-old boy died, amounted to a breakdown in their ceasefire.

“I have reviewed the status of all specified and other paramilitary organisations, as I am obliged to do under legislation, and concluded there are sufficient grounds to specify the UVF,” Mr Hain said.

Earlier, Mr Hain had said he had seen “absolutely categorical evidence” of UVF gunmen trying to kill members of the PSNI police during weekend rioting.

The British government has been routinely ridiculed for its stance towards the non-existent unionist paramilitary ‘ceasefires’, and the latest statement only had the effect of providing more material for its critics.

There will be no change to the status of the other paramilitary groups currently professing to be on ceasefire -- indicating that the UDA escaped censure, despite the widespread knowledge that it is continuously involved in serious violence.

Hain’s announcement, taking effect from midnight Tuesday, came as the UDA released a statement calling for an end to the violence.

Meanwhile, there is speculation the increasingly violent Orange Order could follow the route of the once legal UDA.

The order was accused of being complicit and directly involved in the violence after the controversial Whiterock parade in west Belfast on Saturday.

The announcement of a huge ‘Love Ulster’ demonstration involving Orangemen in Belfast next month has sparked fears of further serious disorder. Flute bands and other loyalist organisations are to take part in the march on October 29th.

A number of Orange Order members are said to have resigned from the body after the Belfast head of the order, Dawson Bailie, refused to condemn the violence.

The Order’s attempts to deny its members took part in rioting at the weekend, despite clear video evidence of their involvmewnt, were greeted with disbelief.

Speaking at a news conference Wednesday, Grand Master Robert Saulters instead blamed the PSNI, the Parades Commission and the British government for causing the trouble.

The violence had been a “cry of desperation,” he said, due to “widespread feelings of frustration” among Protestants.

But the Order’s protests were dismissed by Hain, who said the police video evidence he had seen was categorical, with Orangemen taking off their collarettes, picking up missiles and throwing them at the police.

Sinn Féin joined in the condemnation, saying the Orange Order and unionist leaders had to accept responsibility for the widespread and orchestrated loyalist violence of recent days.

General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin said: “The ambivalence, hypocrisy and double standards that unionists and Orange leaders have shown over recent days is astounding.

“The attempt of unionists and the Orange Order to try and blame everyone but themselves is infantile,” he added.

“It is time for it’s political leaders to grow up,” he added, “before calling on the unionist leadership to “engage and show positive leadership”.

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