Flash: LVF stood down; feud declared over
The leadership of the Loyalist Volunteer Force tonight ordered
all its military units to stand down, according to reports.
The move, which takes effect from midnight, was described as a
direct response to the decision by the Provisional IRA to
decommission its weapons arsenal.
The organisation, which was formed by murdered paramilitary boss
Billy "King Rat" Wright after he was thrown out of the Ulster
Volunteer Force in 1996, has been heavily involved in sectarian
killings and drug dealing.
The LVF is the most openly sectarian of the unionist
paramilitary organisations, occasionally citing religious
doctrine as backing for its attacks on Catholic civilians,
churchmen, politicians and business people.
Despite declaring a "ceasefire" in 1998, the LVF continued
sectarian murder campaign under the guise of the Red Hand
Defenders, a badge of convenience used also by its allies in the
The end of the LVF campaign followed the stated end today to its
bloody feud with its rivals in the UVF.
The feud, which has claimed the lives of five men, was declared
over in a statement released by the Loyalist Commission, a
In the statement, the commission said it believed the feud
between the LVF and the UVF had permanently ended.
The group, which includes politicians, churchmen and
paramilitaries, said it had been holding mediation talks for
some time to resolve the dispute.
The statement released by Rev. Mervyn Gibson, who was speaking
on behalf of other independent activists involved in the
negotiations, said: "A number of community and church activists
have sought for some time to find a resolution to the present
LVF - UVF/RHC feud.
"The primary aim of the initiative was to stop further hurt and
injury to any person.
"A process of extensive talks was embarked upon independently
with the UVF/RHC and LVF.
"Those initiating the process had the encouragement of many
within political and community life and the prayer support of
individuals and churches. We now believe that the feud has
The DUP's Nigel Dodds welcomed the news but said it came too
late for the bereaved families. The North Belfast MP said: "The
ending of murder and bloodshed on our streets will be
particularly welcome in the north Belfast area which has borne
the brunt of the trouble.
"Communities have been set on edge and put into turmoil.
"I pay tribute to those who have worked so hard to bring this
"Let us hope and pray that this announcement will be evidenced
on the ground and that people's lives will return to normal."