08 September 2005

HAIN RELUCTANT TO SPECIFY UVF

Irish American Information Service

09/07/05 08:26 EST

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain today said he would not be rushed into any 'quick-fix' judgments on the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force's ceasefire. As he prepared to meet nationalist SDLP politicians, their leader Martin Durkan said the failure of the British Government to declare the UVF ceasefire invalid, after a bloody summer which has seen the organisation kill four people in Belfast, was unacceptable.

Mr Durkan said at Stormont Castle, where his party also met Northern Ireland Office Security Minister Shaun Woodward, that there was no need for Mr Hain to wait for a report, which he received yesterday from the Independent Monitoring Commission, to stop recognising the UVF ceasefire.

"They have been literally getting away with murder this summer," the Foyle MP said.

However Mr Hain said his first priority was to end all violence.

"My concern is to stop the murder and this awful violence which has just stained communities in Belfast and elsewhere. You do not necessarily do that by quick procedural fixes."

The UVF has waged a vendetta against the rival Loyalist Volunteer Force in Belfast, claiming the lives of four men.

In recent days, masked loyalists have also been involved in disturbances in the Shankill area of the city.

Lorries were hijacked and burnt and police vehicles attacked following PSNI raids prompted by a UVF show of strength in the Woodvale area on Saturday.

According to well-placed sources, the Independent Monitoring Commission's special report has blamed the UVF for recent killings.

The IMC presented the British and Irish governments with its report on the UVF-Loyalist Volunteer Force feud yesterday as violence and serious tensions around loyalist paramilitary activity continues to increase.

The UVF is also accused by police and politicians of orchestrating serious rioting in north Belfast that was triggered by the arrest of one man and the seizure of a UVF machine gun on Monday.

The weapon, said to be of a Sten-gun type, and other UVF material were seized following a "show of strength" by the UVF in north Belfast on Saturday.

The trouble flared as tensions mount about this Saturday's postponed Orange Order Whiterock parade in west Belfast. It was due to be held in late June but Orangemen held a protest march along the Shankill instead after they were banned from parading onto the nationalist Springfield Road through Workman Avenue.

The Parades Commission ruled that the Orangemen could march on to the Springfield Road through the old Mackies site, but they said this was unacceptable. The commission has held to this decision for Saturday, which has raised concern that loyalist paramilitaries could try to exploit the parade by further rioting or even attempting to trigger interface violence.

The IMC cannot specifically instruct Mr Hain to "specify" the UVF, ie rule its ceasefire is no longer intact. "But it will be perfectly clear from the IMC report that it blames the UVF for the recent killings," said one senior source last night.

"There will be nothing surprising in the report," the source added.


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