“The IRA hasn’t gone away, and the UDA is exactly the same.”

One of the more interesting aspects of the list of candidates in the forthcoming election is the absence of anyone officially endorsed by the UPRG.. or the ‘good’ UDA. It may be that despite the recent PR work, and the granting of political capital and the previous official imprimatur of both governments, events on the ground have not progressed sufficiently to allow that appearance.. but regardless of how well, or not, PUP candidates perform this time, the indications, together with some of the statements made, are that we should expect such candidates to emerge in the future... regardless of what sort of society it will signal we’ve been left with..From the Belfast Telegraph report

Amid calls for the UDA to be legalised, the organisation vowed to wage a political battle to replace decades of armed conflict.

In the document an unnamed member of the Inner Council says: “We fought the IRA when they tried to destroy this country, tried to take away our identity, and we will still fight them.

“But it will be in a different way, not on the battlefield but through the force of our arguments.”

David Nicholl, the Ulster Political Research Group spokesman in the North West, said a new path to peace was being forged by the UDA, whose ceasefire has lasted for 12 years.

“It is now a political process that the UDA are engaged in, and they are in favour of powersharing and integrated education and they are prepared to contemplate recognition of Sinn Fein ministers when they are in office.

“The UDA is giving a lead saying they want bread and butter issues tackled, and they want to create an environment in which there is no longer a need for paramilitarism.”

However he ruled out disbandment saying: “The IRA hasn’t gone away, and the UDA is exactly the same.”