a real issue for Assembly members about the PUP’s links to the UVF

While unveiling a memorial to former Secretary of State Mo Mowlam at Stormont today [the “Internal House-keeping” Park? – Ed], current Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, contrasted his view of the activities of the UVF with those of the PIRA – “The UVF have not ended their paramilitary campaign, they are still involved in criminality in a big way and all of those things are things which the IRA have promised to deliver on and is delivering on”[subs]. Interestingly he appears to be arguing that, in his accepting of that contrast, he believes that SF has a stronger claim to a seat in an Executive than a party aligning itself with the UVF-linked PUP [see below]. Apparently forgetting that, earlier this year, he appointed the Chair of the PUP, Dawn Purvis, to the Policing Board.From the Irish Times breaking news

“The UVF have not ended their paramilitary campaign, they are still involved in criminality in a big way and all of those things are things which the IRA have promised to deliver on and is delivering on,” he said.

Mr Hain’s comments come as the row over the Ulster Unionist Party’s decision to admit Progressive Unionist leader David Ervine into their Assembly Group at Stormont intensifies.

As he attended the opening of a children’s park at Stormont in memory of Mo Mowlam, Mr Hain said he understood there was a real issue for Assembly members about the PUP’s links to the UVF.

“Therefore Sinn Féin are in a much stronger position to claim a seat in a power-sharing Executive since they have decommissioned, they have ended their paramilitary campaign, and according to the Independent Monitoring Commission they are driving criminality out of their ranks.

“Now that is a big, big advance compared with where the UVF are. The UVF ought to catch up quickly,” the Northern Ireland secretary said.

Update Press Asociation report here [no subs necessary]