THE full text of Secretary of State Paul Murphy’s statement recognising the UDA ceasefire is contained below.
GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES DESPECIFICATION OF UDA/UFF
Following a review of paramilitary ceasefires the Government has determined to despecify the UDA/UFF. There is no change to the status of other specified organisations.
Announcing this decision, Secretary of State Paul Murphy said: I have reviewed the status of all specified and other paramilitary organisations, as I am obliged to do under legislation, and concluded there are sufficient grounds to despecify the UDA/UFF. Despecification will take effect from midnight on Sunday. I intend to lay an order to that effect before Parliament on Monday, and I will also be making a statement to the House.
My decision, reached only after the most careful consideration, is based on a number of factors, in line with the legislation. They include the UDAs reaffirmation in February this year of its Gregg Initiative, when it re-stated its commitment to its ceasefire; the organisations generally constructive approach during this years marching season; and some diminution in paramilitary activity by its members over the past six months, as reflected in the IMCs recent report. But as that report also makes clear, the UDA continues to be involved in a range of unacceptable activities which must be brought to an end.
In reaching my judgment therefore, another factor to which I have had regard is the positive political engagement by the UPRG, on the UDAs behalf, in recent months. Based on my meeting with them and on the assurances I have received, I am persuaded that the UDA is now prepared to go down a different road, moving away from its paramilitary past. I will have more to say on this in my Parliamentary statement on Monday.
It is important at a time like this to acknowledge the feelings of victims. While I hope this move will help in the process of building a future where violence is put firmly in our past, I want to reassure victims that we have not forgotten their suffering, or their needs.
This is a positive step forward for those involved in this initiative and the communities concerned. I must make clear, however, that all paramilitary groups, whether specified or not, remain illegal organisations and any criminal activity will be pursued relentlessly by the police. I will continue to judge them not just by their words but by their deeds. The onus is now on the UDA/UFF to continue to show its good faith.
The Secretary of State re-iterated that, for a peaceful and prosperous Northern Ireland, we need to see an end to all paramilitary activity, regardless of its source.