A couple of points on UUP leader Reg Empey’s accentuating of the positive reporting of the recent interview with anonymous UVF spokesmen, as the BBC’s Mark Devenport assesses the balancing act. Firstly, he has indicated he will wait until after the IMC report is published, in October, before deciding whether they are being disingenuous, rather than relying on his own discussions with them.. pushing back the timing of the previously suggested assessment. Secondly he has missed the detail of that interview, which as I mentioned previously, has certain caveats on any announcements.. and which doesn’t mention discussions with Reg, or the UUP, as playing any part in their decisions.Those caveats from the Belfast Telegraph interview again
But a declaration on the future of the UVF and Red Hand Commando still depends on a political deal – on devolved government at Stormont.
The UVF still wants the Irish Government to make clear its position on joint-authority – on a political Plan B if Paisley and the Provos can’t make a deal.
“In the event of devolution, it will certainly mean that the UVF and Red Hand will make that statement of intent, but we don’t want this to be used to put pressure on those unionist politicians involved in the negotiations,” one of the loyalist leaders told me.
But then he added: “Now is the time to bite the bullet, to go in (to government) and guarantee the Northern Ireland position while unionism is strong and confident.”
He said this should be done before Sinn Fein becomes politically stronger on both sides of the border.
The Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey recently called on the loyalist paramilitaries to engage with the Independent Monitoring Commission, and the decommissioning body, the IICD, but that won’t happen this side of a political deal.
“It’s not for any sinister reason,” one of the UVF leaders told me, “but the mechanism of this consultation (inside the UVF and Red Hand) has always been about, this is ourselves making these decisions without any other agendas playing out.”
A statement on targeting, exiling, recruitment and punishment attacks will also have to wait until after any political deal, but the UVF did address a number of specifics yesterday – the reported threats to Raymond McCord and a journalist.[emphasis added]
Some previous thoughts on those caveats