29 January 2006

UFF set to be stood down

Sunday Life

UDA leaders say time for military wing to disband

29 January 2006

The UDA is set to announce that it is standing down it's so-called military wing, the Ulster Freedom Fighters, loyalist sources have claimed.

Senior UDA figures in Belfast have held a series of meetings recently to discuss its future and an announcement is expected within a few months.

Sources claim a number of UDA brigadiers favoured the idea of disbanding the UFF immediately, in response to IRA's announcement last summer that it was standing down its military units.

One loyalist source said: "Now the IRA threat has diminished some UDA brigadiers feel there is no longer a need for a military wing within the organisation.

"Although the internal debate is far from over, it seems certain the UFF will be stood down sooner rather than later."

Other sources say many UDA commanders are admitting privately the loyalist paramilitary group's days were numbered.

Recent successes by the PSNI and the Assets Recovery Agency had already put the squeeze on top UDA leaders in the Belfast area.

The organisation is also facing a period of intense scrutiny and surveillance from the intelligence services who have been charged with bringing an end to all loyalist paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland.

"By standing down the UFF they are hoping to buy themselves some time. However, the security forces are slowly winning the battle.

"Public opinion is also turning against the UDA and UVF and they are loosing support in their own areas."

Sources also claim there is intense speculation in loyalist circles that a senior UDA figure and former close associate of deposed Shankill boss, Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair was about to be 'outed' as a intelligence services agent.

The man is still active within the UDA and is believed to have amassed considerable wealth through drugs and racketeering.

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