Although time is up for the UDA to begin decommissioning, there will be a gap before Social Development minister Margaret Ritchie stops taxpayers' money going to projects sponsored by the UPRG. In the next few days, either the UDA has second thoughts or alternative means have to be found to help deserving causes in loyalist areas.
Whatever happens, the £1.2m which the direct rule administration hoped would lead the UDA to declare an end to violence and criminality must not be lost. Plans must be drawn up to channel the money, through reliable sources, to worthwhile schemes that are short of funds.
Ms Ritchie has taken a brave stand, which the UDA had 60 days to consider, to kick-start a decommissioning process that has been at a standstill for 13 years. She knew the risk she was taking, if her ultimatum failed to achieve results, but she felt she had to place some conditions on UPRG money, after UDA elements were involved in riots and a shooting over the summer.
Sir Hugh Orde obviously agreed, but she might have expected more support from her executive colleagues and Secretary of State Shaun Woodward. She admits herself that she has been under pressure from the NIO, to avoid confronting the UDA, and few politicians have spoken up in her defence. Nigel Dodds has contrasted the deadline imposed on the UDA with the laissez-faire attitude to the IRA, which finally yielded to DUP pressure.
The public has watched in shock as, first, the NIO allotted the cash to proxy spokesmen for the UDA and, then, as the deadline was running out, Mr Woodward described the latest meeting between UDA representatives and the decommissioning body as "meaningful", hinting that the Minister should withdraw her threat. No organisation is justified in holding weapons and, with devolution restored and the DUP and Sinn Fein heading a power-sharing executive, the public mood is for complete decommissioning and an end to all forms of paramilitarism.
Both the UDA and the UPRG are digging in their heels, arguing that the money employs people with no paramilitary connections. The mask slipped, however, when the UPRG's Frankie Gallagher said that withdrawing funds could threaten the peace process and lead to " a disastrous place". Quoting UDA sources, he said that if this was how they were treated when they had guns, how would they be treated without them?
The UDA's guns are being used as a bargaining chip, much as the IRA used them, but without a single vote being cast for its political representatives. The IRA has disarmed and stood down, permitting Sinn Fein to enter government, while the UDA has been unwilling or unable to end its criminality, and has no political voice. To survive, with any credibility, it must transform itself.