As expected, UDA leader Jackie McDonald – pictured [from the Irish News] greeting Irish President Mary McAleese at a Belfast primary school in 2005, as referenced in this post – did attend the conference at a Belfast hotel today to workshop how the £1.2milion of public funds might be spent. The Press Association report notes McDonald’s understanding of The Process™ as it now relates to the UDA, and his comments on decommissioning – “it`s still not on the radar” – which is not that different from what he had previosly said to UTV’s Ivan Little.From the PA report
[Jackie McDonald] said: “If there`s political stability, and there still isn`t, and the loyalist people don`t feel threatened, it`s an inevitability in a future normal society that there`s no need for weapons.
“It (decommissioning) is a distinct possibility, but the way things stand at the moment, it`s still not on the radar.”
The loyalist chief said: “The British and Irish Governments basically bought the weapons off the IRA at the end of the day.
“Until loyalism is afforded the same respect and dialogue about their future, then the loyalist people still do feel threatened and still do feel left out.”
UTV’s Ivan Little was there too – the report
will be online later is online here [approx 1/3 of the way through report] [Updated link] – and in that report Jackie McDonald expanded on the reasons why, he believes, weapons continue to be required by the UDA – citing threats within loyalist communities, such as drug dealing gangs, and elements of republicanism.
Something for Hugh Orde, the Chief Constable of the actual Police Service, to consider further, perhaps?
[Hugh Orde] said: “People will do well to recognise the complexities of policing in Northern Ireland.
“I have always said that I will talk to anyone interested in policing, and this is clear evidence of a group of people trying to move on.”