08 June 2006

Hermon to meet UVF victim's dad

Belfast Telegraph

Party urged to sever links with PUP

By David McCord
08 June 2006

A UVF murder victim's father is to meet the UUP's only MP in a bid to persuade her to totally repudiate the party's Progressive Unionist Party link-up.

Lady Sylvia Hermon spoke last month of her "deep distress" at her party's Stormont alliance with PUP leader David Ervine.

But she also stated that the move would be "worthwhile" if it helped bring about loyalist decommissioning and halted murders.

Raymond McCord Snr, whose son was beaten to death by a UVF gang in 1997, has revealed that he will be holding face-to-face talks with the North Down MP this weekend.

"I believe Lady Sylvia is an honourable woman," he said.

"I will be asking her to fully renounce her party's link with the PUP and to support a public inquiry into my son's murder."

Lady Sylvia told the Belfast Telegraph: "Having talked to Raymond McCord at length, I can honestly say that I share many of his concerns and so I certainly welcome the opportunity to discuss them further when we meet on Saturday.

"With Raymond, I know there will be straight talking and that's very much to be welcomed."

Mr McCord has repeatedly accused the two main unionist parties of failing to speak up for UVF victims from the Protestant community.

The Ulster Unionist Party came under further pressure over its PUP link-up last week as a result of the gun attack on leading loyalist Mark Haddock.

In a separate development last week, eight Co Antrim men were jailed over a UVF "photo shoot" in Newtownabbey in January 2003.

Among those imprisoned was a one-time PUP activist, Colin Greer. He was the keyholder of the Monkstown shop premises where the publicity stunt was being staged.

Greer, the son of former Newtownabbey PUP councillor Billy Greer, received two concurrent 12 month sentences.

Police stormed the shop premises using CS gas and discovered an Uzi sub-machine gun, a replica sub-machine gun and a Chinese assault rifle, as well as UVF paraphernalia.

The judge in the case, Mr Justice Girvan, said the photoshoot was designed to show that the UVF was "still in business" with "willing volunteers".

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