Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Stop pussyfooting with UDA, governments urged

UDA: splinter group fears

Fears over the future conduct of the paramilitary UDA are to be raised with the British and Irish governments.

The loyalist grouping, which is the largest paramilitary organisation in Northern Ireland, decommissioned some of its illegal cache of weapons last month, but has been criticised for not completing the disarmament process.

Loyalists linked to the UDA in Londonderry and north Antrim withdrew support for the police earlier this month, sparking fears that the Northern Ireland-wide group is splintering into different factions, though this has been denied by its representatives.

UDA members have been accused of involvement in the murder of Catholic man Kevin McDaid who was beaten to death in May by a mob in Coleraine, Co Londonderry.

The organisation also faced criticism last week when 150 members took to the streets in Londonderry city.

The Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) has insisted the UDA is committed to securing a lasting peace but has claimed that loyalist communities are not reaping the benefits of the new era in Northern Ireland and feel isolated. But yesterday East Londonderry representative for the SDLP, John Dallat, accused the authorities of “pussyfooting” with the UDA.

“I have sent an urgent message to the Department of Foreign Affairs asking for an early meeting with their representative for this area and I have also written at length to the Secretary of State,” he said.

“I do not want to see another generation of innocent people sacrificed and I do take some comfort from the fact that the PSNI have made successes in recent times and feel certain that this has provoked a great deal of resentment within the UDA at local level.

“The time for horse-trading with paramilitaries is over and the time for genuine partnership at every level of society leading to permanent reconciliation between our people is the only show in town.”

Mr Dallat added that there “can be no room for ‘brigadiers' and ‘generals' and certainly no tolerance for those who don't support law and order and won't decommission their weapons of murder and destruction”.

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