09 March 2006



03/09/06 11:55 EST

Sinn Féin's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness has said nationalists would be very sceptical of a statement issued today by the UDA in which it claimed it would move away from violence.

The statement, issued by the inner council of the North's largest loyalist paramilitary organisation also denied reports that it was using a cover name to launch a fresh wave of sectarian attacks.

Fears that the grouping may be about to embark on a new campaign against Catholics heightened when a taxi passenger's gun jammed after it was pointed at the driver in North Belfast at the weekend. The attack was claimed by the Red Hand Defenders, a pseudonym employed in the past by the UDA.

Martin McGuinness said: "Given that the UDA over recent years have made a number of positive statements only for them to be contradicted by actions on the ground, people will be totally sceptical about this statement, particularly in light of events in recent days."

He added: "We need to hear and see from the UDA evidence that their violent sectarian campaign against Catholics is over. We need to hear that their guns and bombs will not be used again and that they want to move forward peacefully with the rest of us. Along with most people I hope that this statement will take us forward."

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