The UDA also made a statement in court this morning. Although it says it must now take its struggle into the political arena, it nowhere unambiguously suggests it is pulling out of criminal activity. And in an echo of Gerry Adams words, it signs off with “We’ll never go away you know!!”. Emmm…Here’s the UDA’s statement in full:
In the summer of 1972 when the IRA threatened our very existence young Protestant men flocked in their thousands to join vigilante groups across Ulster to defend Ulster from Republican aggression.
These brave young men manned barricades at their street to defend their homes as the enemy drew in. These vigilantes became what is now the Ulster Defence Association.
At one stage in ’74 the UDA made the loyalist community so strong that it was able to topple the Sunningdale Agreement. Not driven by personal gain but to fight for Ulster, they became a well-oiled ruthless killing machine which was named the Ulster Freedom Fighters. They matched and indeed surpassed the PIRA in political assassinations.
Some of these volunteers gave many years of their lives in jail, whilst others paid the supreme sacrifice with their lives. Friends and comrades, thank you for showing your support for tonight’s
event. As you know know the PIRA has surrendered. This in itself was a victory for the loyalist community although our Unionist politicians and the Secretary of State don’t want to seem to give us any concessions.
So we must now take our fight into the political arena. However, this does not spell the end for the UDA. We want to reassure you all that the Ulster Defence Association is here to stay. I would also like to take this opportunity to let our prisoners and their families know that we wilkl continue to fight for them. And while Hugh Orde continually calls us criminals and puts only North Belfast Brigade Staff in jail on trumped up charges, we remain as strong as ever.
We’ll never go away you know!!
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty