04 June 2006

Unionist turmoil over UVF shooting

Sunday Times

Liam Clarke
June 04, 2006

DAVID ERVINE, the leader of the Progressive Unionist party, has predicted overtures from the Ulster Unionist party (UUP) to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) will eventually result in peace moves. Sir Reg Empey, the UUP leader, is facing increasing criticism for accepting Ervine’s party, the political wing of the UVF, into the Ulster Unionist grouping in the Northern Ireland assembly.

Empey’s dilemma has become particularly acute following the attempted murder earlier last week of Mark Haddock, a police informer within the UVF’s Mount Vernon unit.

Lady Sylvia Hermon, the UUP’s sole Westminster MP, has spoken of her “great distress” at the decision to treat with Ervine’s party, and there is widespread criticism of the move within the UUP.

Sources have told the Sunday Times that the attack on Haddock, 36, was ordered by the UVF’s East Antrim brigadier, another police informer known as Mr Y, but was not sanctioned by the UVF’s central leadership. The leader of the UVF in Mount Vernon assisted with the disposal of the vehicle.

Two men currently being questioned about the killing by police are understood not to have had any direct involvement in the murder. Haddock, who was shot in the stomach, arm, back and chest with a low velocity weapon, has been able to speak to police and identify his attackers.

One was a close friend of 20 years who lured him to the area near Mossley Mill in the Doagh Road area of Newtownabbey where he was shot. When Haddock arrived the “friend” got out of his car and another man, who had been hiding in the car, sprang up and shot him.

The UUP decision to allow Ervine to join its assembly group would give the party an extra ministerial seat at Sinn Fein’s expense if a power-sharing executive is formed.

Despite her discomfort, Hermon said the move could prove worthwhile if it helped to deliver UVF decommissioning. Even so, it is a continuing embarrassment to the conservative and middle-class UUP to be linked to an organisation engaged in numerous bloody feuds.

The UVF’s ceasefire is not recognised by the British government and the Independent Monitoring Commission has linked the organisation to violence, drug-dealing and criminality.

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