Belfast Telegraph

Founder member of UVF Gusty Spence tells the group to disband

By Heather McGarrigle

The founder of the modern-day Ulster Volunteer Force Gusty Spence believes “they should disband now”.

Shankill-born Spence organised the UVF throughout the 1960s.

Last night he told the BBC Spotlight programme: “There is no reason for them to exist.”

Many senior UVF names have echoed Spence’s views recently, in light of the organisation’s implication in Bobby Moffett’s murder in May, the recent riots in Rathcoole and continued “punishment attacks”.

After the Moffett murder, the leader of Progressive Unionist Party — which has links to the UVF — Dawn Purvis, quit.

She said: “I wanted to go to bed, pull the covers over my eyes and weep.”

Despite UVF figures calling for the organisation to be wound up, some loyalists fear more militant elements could take control within the group if not managed correctly.

Chris Hudson, a former “go-between” for the Irish government and UVF, said: “This is one loose end that, if it is not tidied up, may cause us great heartache in the near future.”

The new leader of the PUP worried that a senior north Belfast loyalist’s alleged decision to become a “supergrass” could prove destructive.

Brian Ervine said: “A lot of men want to move on, they want to civilianise, this could deter them from doing that, some of them.”

A UVF spokesman told the programme that if police investigations led to the arrest of senior figures “all bets would be off”.

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