Belfast Telegraph

UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando 'are turning backs on crime'

By Staff Reporter

Loyalist paramilitaries are to make their most significant announcement in almost a quarter-of-a-century today.

A combined statement will be read on behalf of the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando this morning announcing they are walking away from crime.

It is understood it will be read by three senior Protestant clergymen and will be the most significant announcement since the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) announced its ceasefire in 1994.

The announcement is to be made in the historic Linen Hall Library in Belfast's Donegall Square North.

The terror groups' decision to abandon their criminal enterprises has come partly as a result of mediation by clerics. It also follows pressure from police, and a desire to ensure that public money continues to be channelled into community development projects in the loyalist areas from where they draw their support.

The three loyalist terror groups built up an extensive crime network over the years of the Troubles and the decades which followed, being involved in murders, drug trafficking, extortion, protection rackets as well as sectarian intimidation and attacks

The UVF has also been involved in orchestrating racist attacks and intimidation, according to the PSNI.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton last year described the UVF as a "chaotic disorganised crime group". It was linked to many atrocities including the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and the murder of members of the Miami Showband

The UDA and the RHC - who are also expected to declare their rejection of criminal enterprises at this morning's Linen Hall Press conference - are also proscribed terrorist organisations. Like the UVF, they have a savage history of violent sectarian crime spanning many decades of recent history.

It is not thought that any of the terror gangs will announce that they are formally disbanding.

Instead, they will be hoping that their public commitment to eschew violence and criminality announced today will be enough to ease the pressure they are currently facing.

Belfast Telegraph

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