Murphy to meet UDA, UVF
British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy is to meet representatives of
the UDA and other unionist paramilitary organisations next week.
Although the British government does not consider the outlawed
UDA to be on a ceasefire, Murphy will meet members of the UDA as
part of a delegation of a related group, the "Ulster Political
Research Group" (UPRG). He will also meet members of the
Progressive Unionist Party, which is linked to the paramilitary
Mr Murphy said in the British parliament on Wednesday that he
was prepared to explore the opportunities for advancing the
peace process. Equally, he said all unionist paramilitary
actions and criminality must be condemned.
SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood said that Mr Murphy
engaging with the UDA when it was not on ceasefire and given its
criminal and sectarian activities may not "add up" for some
people. But there were "times when political risks and risks for
peace are taken".
"In doing so, there must be a single strong message to the UDA:
'Either you close down your criminal, paramilitary and sectarian
activities or you will be closed down by the full resources of
the state and the law'. This is the basis on which to proceed.
The message should be tough and simple," added Mr Attwood.
Next week's meeting is not the first between a British Direct
Ruler and the UDA in recent years -- both Mo Mowlam and John
Reid engaged in such discussions.
Sinn Fein chairman Mr Mitchel McLaughlin described the meetings
as crucial in the ongoing struggle to make progress in the
peace process, said Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin.
Sinn Fein has always been willing to engage with
representatives of unionism, unfortunately many of the political
representatives of unionism continue to shy away from such
dialogue, he said.
It is important that during this meeting, Mr Murphy makes it
clear to the loyalist representatives that on-going attacks on
Catholics and ethnic minorities have to end as well as
continuing drug dealing and agitation along the interfaces.