20 August 2005

Hain 'must act on UVF ceasefire'


Mark Durkan said the issue of the UVF ceasefire has been ignored

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has accused Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain of acting with "indifference" towards the UVF ceasefire.

Mr Durkan told BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Politics programme, the government must "stop pretending" that the loyalist ceasefire was intact.

Mr Durkan said that Mr Hain must take action on the issue.

"What worries me is that we have the British government evading the issue of the UVF's ceasefire," he said.

"The secretary of state (is) almost shrugging his shoulders and saying we'll wait and see what the IMC (Independent Monitoring Commission) say in October.

"It is the secretary of state and the secretary of state alone who has the responsibility in terms of specifying organisations and declaring on the status of ceasefires, and appearing to treat murders and other criminal activities from the UVF as though it was par for the course in the peace process is very dangerous," he said.

Alluding to the current feud between the paramilitary UVF and the rival LVF, Mr Durkan said he was concerned there was "an attitude in the NIO that this is maybe a cleaning up operation that's going on between loyalist paramilitaries" which could be a "prelude to something more positive advancing".

Mr Durkan added: "That is a very dangerous bit of cynicism and I would hope that is not the motive behind what appears to be indifference on the part of the secretary of state to the UVF ceasefire status."

The Independent Monitoring Commission was set up by the British and Irish governments in January 2004.

It is a crucial element in the two governments' plans for restoring devolution, which was suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at Stormont.

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