The Ulster Unionist Party is gathering for an Annual General Meeting this weekend and the Belfast Telegraph previews UUP leader Reg Empey’s
speech apology for mistakes by the UUP leadership.. [all in the past, apparently – Ed] Meanwhile, via the BBC, he reveals that he has been having meetings with the leadership of the UDA and UVF since autumn last year. The BBC report also notes January’s IMC report on those loyalist paramilitary groups.From the BBC report –
In January, an Independent Monitoring Commission report said the UDA and its members had continued to undertake targeting, shootings and assaults.
“Members of the organisation were engaged in drug dealing, extortion, the production and sale of counterfeit goods, money laundering and robbery,” it said.
On the UVF, the IMC said: “It remains a continuing and serious threat to the rule of law and our previous phrase – active, violent and ruthless – still applies to it.”
Of course, the UUP leadership aren’t the only ones engaged in the dubious strategy of attempting to “persuade the loyalist paramilitaries to commit to purely peaceful means”. The Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, and no doubt Tony Blair’s Chief of Staff, Jonathan Powell, have been at it as well.