16 May 2006


Daily Ireland

Relatives of UVF victims blast Ulster Unionist Party after paramilitary group’s spokesman David Ervine aligns himself with party in a Stormont voting pact

by Mick Hall

Relatives of people killed by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) have slammed the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) after loyalist assembly member David Ervine formally aligned himself with the party at a reconvened Stormont yesterday.
The inclusion of Mr Ervine, whose Progressive Unionist Party is linked with the UVF, increased the Ulster Unionist assembly team to 25 MLAs, effectively giving the UUP-PUP assembly group an extra ministerial seat at the expense of Sinn Féin.
The development came as the 108 MLAs gathered at Stormont in the first attempt to resurrect the collapsed political executive in nearly four years.
The UUP strategy was condemned by Belfast man Gerard McErlean, who lost two brothers to two UVF gunmen on May 23, 1975.
John (29) and Thomas McErlean (19) were murdered as they played cards with Protestant workmates.
Mr McErlean said the move showed the UUP’s past position on refusing to deal with republicans unless the IRA decommissioned its weapons to be “one-sided” and devoid of principle.
He questioned whether the UUP was now to be considered the political representatives of the UVF.
“This move is a farce. Are we to use the phrase UUP/UVF when describing their Stormont team?
“The last Stormont executive was collapsed because Ulster Unionists threatened to walk due to the alleged republican spy ring. They said they couldn’t, in principle, deal with active paramilitaries.
“It seems the party never ascribed to that principle and it is clear all they want is power. They’ve shown sickening expediency and double standards.”
Johnny Marshall, brother of Lurgan man Sam Marshall, shot dead in March 1990 by the UVF with the alleged help of security force members, echoed Mr McErlean’s comments.
He said the UUP move was an insult to every civilian killed by loyalists during the conflict.
“My brother was killed and the Ulster Unionists couldn’t care less who killed him. They don’t care how many nationalists were killed by people who still have guns. It’s an insult.”
Ray McCord Sr, whose son was beaten to death by UVF members and dumped in a quarry on the outskirts of North Belfast in 1997, said the UUP had shown “total hypocrisy” by bringing Mr Ervine into the party’s Stormont team.
Mr McCord held a meeting with UUP leader Reg Empey and deputy leader Danny Kennedy yesterday morning.
He told Daily Ireland: “I asked Reg Empey why he would bring a man like Ervine into the unionist group, a man who fails to condemn UVF murders. Since its ceasefire, 25 to 30 people have been killed by the UVF.
“The Ulster Unionists walked out of the assembly three years ago over what the IRA was doing, but the Provos weren’t killing Protestants, the UVF have been.”
“I believe unionist politicians have shown no sympathy or any urgency for bringing people to account for the UVF’s silence.”
“The reason for his inclusion is for power, to get an extra seat and take a seat away from Sinn Féin. That’s not satisfactory.”
He said that allegations by DUP leader Ian Paisley that the UUP had aligned itself with ‘terrorism’ were simply “point-scoring”.
Mr McCord revealed to Daily Ireland that the UUP leader agreed to ask Mr Ervine to meet Mr McCord for face-to-face discussions over the death of his son, something the PUP leader has so far refused to do.
Mr Empey defended his party’s position yesterday, claiming the move would pass a third Sinn Féin executive place to them and see a unionist majority for the first time on the executive.

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