UDA claim peace move
UDA claim peace move

The unionist paramilitary UDA has announced that it will recognise and accept the authority of future Sinn Féin ministers following Assembly elections.

The UDA also confirmed it has decided to accept the legitimacy of Sinn Féin’s electoral mandate. The decisions, which have been described as “ground-breaking, historic and unprecedented” by the UDA’s political advisers, the Ulster Political Research Group, were taken at a meeting in Derry’s Guildhall.

Among those at the meeting were the UDA’s five brigade commanders as well as members of the UDA’s inner council.

The UDA inner council members were gathered to launch a new strategy document - Learning From Others In Conflict: Loyalism In Transition.

The pamphlet, produced for the UDA, outlined why the group became involved in a campaign of violence, but also charted a new political path.

The document said the UDA would have to acknowledge that “the ordinary Catholic community suffered appallingly” as a result of its actions.

In an apparent reference to British collusion with the UDA, it also said the State shared culpability.

In the document an unnamed member of the Inner Council says: “We fought the IRA when they tried to destroy this country, tried to take away our identity, and we will still fight them.

“But it will be in a different way, not on the battlefield but through the force of our arguments.”

However, there was no mention of any move to decommission UDA weapons.

Speaking to reporters following the event, UDA ‘brigadier’ Jackie McDonald said the UDA and political allies, the Ulster Political Research Group, were ‘trying to be honest’.

He acknowledged that pub massacres carried out by unionists were atrocities and urged republicans to ‘make a similar admission’ about their armed struggle.

He added that no-one despises the IRA more than he does, but he acknowledged it had made progress. However, he said the British and Irish governments had created conditions that made them ‘respectable and electable’ and should now ‘afford the UDA, UVF and Red Hand [Commando] the same luxury and bring them in from the cold’.

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