Irish Republican News · October 28, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Rustlings in the unionist undergrowth

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern met with representatives of the unionist paramilitary UVF on Wednesday, while his Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen visited the UDA controlled Taughmonagh district of south Belfast.

The talks are seen as an indication of significant behind-the-scenes activity in the peace process. Fears of trouble at a major rally by unionist hardliners today formed a backdrop for this week’s efforts to reduce the level of violence by unionist paramilitaries.

Mr Ahern spent an hour in talks at Government buildings with a four man delegation from the Progressive Unionist Party, led by David Ervine.

The PUP decided at its recent annual conference that it would not sever its links with the UVF, which has killed a number of people in recent months.

Mr Ervine said the Taoiseach indicated to him that talks between the British and Irish governments and the North’s political parties could begin as early as next month.

“That was something that I was delighted to hear,” Mr Ervine said afterwards.

“There is no excuse for us not to have the restoration of the Northern Ireland assembly by this time next year. No excuses.”

Also on Wednesday, during his visit to Belfast, Mr Cowen called on unionist paramilitaries to follow the IRA’s decommissioning move. He also appealed for more European Union money to be made available to sustain peace initiatives in the North, and for an intensification of economic cross-border co-operation between the two jurisdictions.

Brian Cowan’s visit to Taughmonagh follows a similar visit by Mary McAleese last month during which she shared a hug with south Belfast UDA ‘brigadier’ Jackie McDonald.


Today [Saturday], Mr Ervine said there was “reason to hope” a bloody between the UVF and the rival LVF may be drawing close to an end. Speculation has also mounted in recent weeks that the LVF may be considering ending its campaign of violence.

Mr Ervine also said the UVF was not a threat to the peace process, and appealed for time for the UVF to follow the IRA’s move to end its campaign and decommission.

In a separate development this week, the UDA held a meeting in Belfast with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD).

The delegation included leading north Belfast UDA member Andre Shoukri. However, UDA figures said there was no suggestion of imminent decommissioning on the part of the UDA.


Meanwhile, Ian Paisley has claimed plans to allow republicans ‘on the run’ from outstanding convictions relared to the conflict to return to the North of Ireland amounts to “the biggest unconditional surrender” by a British government.

While the ‘OTRs’ face questioning and charges in relation to the British-styled “offences”, it appears they will not be returned to jail under the planned legislation, due to come before the British parliament next Spring.

“Call it what you may, the proposed legislation for on-the-run terrorists and terrorists under suspicion of murderous deeds is to all intents and purposes an unconditional amnesty,” Paisley declared.

“Once a terrorist gets the certificate of clearance, they are beyond the pale of the courts. Their lawlessness has become lawful. This is the most unconditional surrender that any British Government has ever engaged itself in,” he thundered.

With thousands of hardline unionists set to march through the city in the feared ‘Love Ulster’ demonstration later today, the veteran DUP leader called for the “greatest possible resistance” to the proposals.

“There must be no giving in to these unjustifiable demands. If the British Government has no stomach for the fight they will discover that the unionist population will have none of the propaganda and spin and in no way will they give tolerance to such betrayal.”

Mr Paisley also raised fears over plans for the involvement of republicans in low-level local community restorative justice groups.

“In no way must these serious surrenders be allowed to come to fruition. It is now or never that the battle for Ulster`s soul will be won.”

  • An arson attack on a hall used by the Protestant Orange Order in west Belfast on Thursday night has been condemned by Sinn Fein.

    The Whiterock Orange Hall is close to the scene of ferocious rioting that broke out after a disputed Orange march last month. The Orange Order claimed the fire was an attempt at provocation.

    Tom Hartley, a Sinn Fein West Belfast councillor, said: “Despite the behaviour of the Orange Lodge who operate out of the Whiterock Hall over recent months in trying to force an unwanted sectarian parade through the local nationalist community and the subsequent violence and intimidation which resulted, there can be no justification for an attack of this kind.”

  • A stabbing incident in north Belfast which the PSNI police believe may have had a “sectarian motive” has drawn an angry response from Sinn Fein.

    The PSNI are unsure about what direction the attackers ran off in, and by yesterday afternoon had yet to establish the religion of the injured man.

    Sinn Fein politicians accused the PSNI of double standards.

    Catholic schoolboy Thomas Devlin was murdered in August by unionist paramilitaries on Belfast’s Somerton Road. The PSNI is still refusing to described the murder as sectarian.

    Councillor Ni Chuilin said: “This statement stands in stark contrast to the silence surrounding a summer of attacks against nationalists, when the PSNI refused to state that such attacks were sectarian despite overwhelming evidence that unionist paramilitaries were behind them.”

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    © 2005 Irish Republican News