The British government has extended a deadline for unionist paramilitary groups to decommission their weapons by another twelve months.

Portraying this move as yet another last chance, British Direct Ruler Shaun Woodward called for the UDA, UVF and others to deal with their arms dumps. The legislation allows for weapons to be legally transported before being decommissioned.

The relevant arms legislation has been renewed annually without debate for several years.

Sinn Féin Asssembly member Caral Ni Chuilin said that the British decision was hypocritical.

“The fact is that dealing with the issue of loyalist weaponry is a legacy issue for the British government to tackle.

“British government agencies formed these pseudo gangs, directed them, controlled them and most tellingly armed them. They have on their payroll many leading figures within these groups.

“Given this reality the British government have no credibility in somehow claiming that resolving the issue of loyalist weapons is simply a matter for the gangs involved and the [arms decommissioning body].

“The responsibility for tackling these matters primarily lies with those who provided the arms, the intelligence and the direction - namely the British government through their various agencies.”

Unionist paramilitaries were responsible for leaving potentially lethal blast bombs near a children’s play area in south Belfast earlier in the week.

Four devices, described by the PSNI police as “viable”, were left near a cycle park in the Donegall Road area of the city.

It was the latest in a series of loyalist arms discoveries over the past weeks.

PSNI Chief Hugh Orde initially said the devices were planted by republicans, before it became clear the bombs were in fact part of another loyalist cache.

Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey said the PSNI needed to state very clearly who is behind the manufacturing and use of the bombs.

“Only last week several pipe bombs and ammunition were found in a house in Newtownabbey,” said Mr Maskey.

“I have raised the issue of the use of such devices at the Policing Board after a pipe bomb was put through the letter box of a Romanian living in south Belfast.

“The PSNI need to inform the public very clearly, who exactly are behind the manufacturing and use of these devices and is there a pattern behind any attacks or bomb finds.

“The threat from these devices are very real and they can kill. We need to see action taken before somebody is seriously wounded or a life is lost.”


Meanwhile, Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy has revealed that he had been advised that a unionist paramilitary gang attempted to murder him last weekend.

Mr Murphy said he had been told by the PSNI that the Orange Volunteers had carried out a murder attempt in the Newry area.

“This information follows on from a number of pipe bombs left in the Cookstown area claimed by the same gang, one adjacent to the home of party colleague Councillor John McNamee,” Mr Murphy said.

“Sinn Féin are obviously taking these events seriously. But we will not allow reactionary unionist elements to deflect us from our work in representing people and driving forward the United Ireland agenda.

“What we do need to hear now is strong words and actions from unionist political leaders in the face of what are clearly attempts to attack the political process from elements within their community.”

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© 2008 Irish Republican News