UVF will cease to exist

As of midnight tonight, the UVF will cease to exist as a terrorist group. From the BBC report:

The paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force has declared that it is renouncing violence and will cease to exist as a terrorist organisation from midnight.
It also said it will keep its weapons, but has put them “beyond reach”. This means they will be stored in a number of arms dumps “under the control of the UVF leadership, but not accessible for use by members”. During the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the UVF murdered more than 500 people. Its campaign also claimed the lives of 33 people in bomb attacks in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974.
Full statment below foldThe statement in full:

Following a direct engagement with all the units and departments of our organisation, the leadership of the Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commando today make public the outcome of our three year consultation process.
We do so against a backdrop of increasing community acceptance that the mainstream republican offensive has ended; that the six principles upon which our ceasefire was predicated are maintained; that the principle of consent has been firmly established and thus, that the union remains safe.

We welcome recent developments in securing stable, durable democratic structures in Northern Ireland and accept as significant, support by the mainstream republican movement of the constitutional status quo.

Commensurate with these developments, as of 12 midnight, Thursday 3 May 2007, the Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commando will assume a non-military, civilianised, role.

To consolidate this fundamental change in outlook we have addressed the methodology of transformation from military to civilian organisation by implementing the following measures in every operational and command area.


All recruitment has ceased; military training has ceased; targeting has ceased and all intelligence rendered obsolete; all active service units have been de-activated; all ordinance has been put beyond reach and the IICD instructed accordingly.

We encourage our volunteers to embrace the challenges which continue to face their communities and support their continued participation in non-military capacities.

We reaffirm our opposition to all criminality and instruct our volunteers to cooperate fully with the lawful authorities in all possible instances.

Moreover, we state unequivocally, that any volunteer engaged in criminality does so in direct contravention of brigade command and thus we welcome any recourse through due process of law.

All volunteers are further encouraged to show support for credible restorative justice projects so that they, with their respective communities, may help to eradicate criminality and anti-social behaviour in our society. We call on all violent dissidents to desist immediately We ask the government to facilitate this process and remove the obstacles which currently prevent our volunteers and their families from assuming full and meaningful citizenship.

We call on all violent dissidents to desist immediately and urge all relevant governments and their security apparatus to deal swiftly and efficiently with this threat.

Failure to do so will inevitably provoke another generation of loyalists toward armed resistance. We have taken the above measures in an earnest attempt to augment the return of accountable democracy to the people of Northern Ireland and as such, to engender confidence that the constitutional question has now been firmly settled. In doing so we reaffirm the legitimacy of our tactical response to violent nationalism yet reiterate the sincere expression of abject and true remorse to all innocent victims of the conflict.

Brigade command salutes the dedication and fortitude of officers, NCOs and volunteers throughout the difficult, brutal years of armed resistance.

We reflect with honour on those from our organisation who made the ultimate sacrifice; those who endured long years of incarceration and the loyal families who shared their suffering and supported them throughout. Finally, we convey our appreciation for their honest forthright exchange with officers, NCOs and volunteers throughout the organisation over the past three years which has allowed us to assume with confidence the position we adopt today.

For God and Ulster. Captain William Johnston, Adjutant

  • jimstopit

    What will the special branch do now?

  • Uatu

    Just heard Dawn Purvis on the Fat B******s Show on Radio Ulster. Did they not tell her anything about this? She really is a bad spokesperson.

  • Steaky

    Anyone care to join my sweep for the first time one of these “put beyond use” weapons is used?

    I have dabs on two months!

  • ben

    Once again, the PUP/UVF/DUP can’t find leverage in the middle of a shower of fulcrums. If this outfit were a pathetic excuse for a terrorist organisation, they’d be … oh, wait.

    And, “nice acronym, mom” — Buffy.

  • Miss Fitz

    I believe they are ‘put beyond reach’.

    I have a great cartoon somewhere I will have to dig out where the IRA weapons have been put beyond reach, and there is an image of a wee lad struggling to get them form the top of a tall wardrobe.

    In fairness though, this statement is welcomed, and the agreement in principle to adopt non-violent measures and practices is tremendous.

  • The big difference between the IRA and the UVF is that the IRA was a well-controlled organisation that had virtual total control of its membership. The UVF is totally fragmented and any “directive” from its leadership is not going to have the same impact…

  • smcgiff

    Definitely welcome,

    However, being the pedant that I am – How can there be members and more importantly UVF leadership if there is no UVF?

    “under the control of the UVF leadership, but not accessible for use by members”.

    While their arms exits there remains a UVF. However, this is only a pedantic point, and that they have “gone away” is greatly welcomed.

  • I’m glad long overdue step has happened but will not be popping any champagne corks. Many of us have spent the last couple of months wondering what the hell the ast 40 years were about. There’s probably no more significant ‘what the hell was that about’ episode than the murderous career of Mark Haddock. It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth this morning.

  • joeCanuck

    Ah c’mon Sammy, have a shot of Bush/Powers.
    It’s more like a big stride than a small step, I think.

  • Miss Fitz

    I personally think the most difficult transition that will need to be made is going to be around the idea of ‘what was it all about’.

    Now that the dust has settled, and we all love each other to bits, a cold uncomfortable feeling is going to start to come over people who are going to wonder where the passionate hatred came from and why it existed.

    Funnily enough, these thoughts were going through my mind on Sunday when I was at a Parade on the Ormeau Road. There was so much love and sunshine, I was feeling disoriented.

    Then a group of young ladies sitting on the bridge starting shouting over at the ‘Fenian bastards’ on the other side. I felt strangely relieved……. For so long our normality has been this strange and unfounded loathing that the absence of it can seem abnormal. In short, we still have a long way to go.

  • smcgiff, they don’t actually say they’re disbanding, just assuming “a non-military, civilianised, role.”

  • smcgiff

    Yeah, Beano, noted that after I read the full statement – In my defence I’ll cite Miss Fitz’s Tag line.

    They’re not gone away you know! 🙂

  • Miss Fitz

    I think the distinction will become clearer in the coming days.

    The UVF re-formed in 1966, and their main and enduring claim to legitimacy has been their historical record from 1912 and 1914.

    My own guess is that between the lines they are stating that they are ceasing to ‘exist as a terrorist group’ as noted in the statement.

    This does not preclude a return to the historical group UVF which has continued to exist in some form or other since its foundation.

  • George

    “Beyond reach” isn’t where we want to be. “Beyond use” is the standard.

    I can live with beyond reach as an interim step, an equivalent to the IRA’s “order to dump arms” phase in their decommissioning saga.

    If that’s the case and this is the UVF’s equivalent phase, then fair enough.

    However, the next step has to be “beyond use” and politicians of all hues should be unrelenting in ensuring that this happens sooner rather than later.

  • joeCanuck

    I would think so Miss Fitz.
    We’ll have an old boys and girls UVF club and the same for the IRA.
    I don’t have a problem with that. We cannot stop pals/comrades continuing to associate.

  • circles

    I loved the line though regarding their deconstruction that “all intelligence (has been)rendered obsolete” – what’s missing is that this particular move took place soemtime in the mid-60’s.
    Apart from that – a cosmetic exercise which is to be welcomed insofar as one can welcome cosmetic things (such as the avon lady).

  • joeCanuck

    Don’t belittle this move. The IRA started (stopped) in a small way too.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “the IRA was a well-controlled organisation that had virtual total control of its membership.”

    yeah, like Scap, Donaldson, DFM(?) etc etc

  • Any word on whether their former comrades in the Official IRA will follow suit?

  • circles

    joe – thats a comparison of apples and pears

  • smcgiff

    ‘Any word on whether their former comrades in the Official IRA will follow suit?’

    Their pitchforks have been turned into ploughshares.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Any word on whether their former comrades in the Official IRA will follow suit?’

    Come to think of it, when you say comrades shouldn’t you have mentioned the UDA?

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Gas the archaic language and the ‘For God and Ulster’ bit at the bottom …ah sure god bless ’em all including the dear old captain himself. What very brave men prepared to defend Ulster and at long last the penny (or the Queen’s schilling) has dropped.

    Quis Separabit?…..Take up those hedge trimmers!

  • Rory

    For those who now hope that eventually the UVF arms may be ‘put beyond use’ I fear disappointment. How could they reach the arms in order to put them beyond use?

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Miss Fitz: ‘I felt strangely relieved……. For so long our normality has been this strange and unfounded loathing’

    How true Miss Fitz. I was driving through Lurgan one evening last week and got caught up in a Loyalist band parade. As i waited for it to march past, everyone seemed to be having a great old time, but normal service was swiftly resumed when a group of primary school age girls started chanting ‘ya ya up the ra.’

    It was tempting to engage them in debate along the lines of ‘what ra? sure they don’t effectively exist anymore’ or ‘exactly where did you learn such poetry when the conflict more or less ended before you’s were born?’

    But it’s probably best to appreciate the incident as a return to normality. Old hatreds? They haven’t gone away you know.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Were the burly band men afraid of the school girls? Did it look as if they were going to retaliate?

    Perhaps the school girls were praising the Egyptian Sun god for the sunny weather we’re having lately.

    (I blame the parents in any way!)

  • Nicholas

    Ra Ra ..Rasputin.

    Evil cleric wasn’t he?

  • here’shim

    best line of the day was business man on talkback wondering what he should tell the ‘boys’ if they arrive on saturday looking for their protection money…

  • joeCanuck

    If it’s a sunny day perhaps they’ll be baring arms.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Greagoir: ‘I blame the parents in any way’

    Too true. As long as this sort of guff is handed down from generation to generation (and I include the OO in that) we’ll always have problems.

  • gareth mccord

    What a load of crap!!
    I am even more annoyed at the reaction of the idiots who think this statement means anything to the unionist community?
    The only people safe from the UVF are the catholic community. They will not target or be interested in targeting the catholic community no more.
    The people who will live in fear and continue to be terrorised by the UVF are the unionist community. The protection money isn’t and wont stop the drug dealing wont stop and the intimidation and threats wont stop!! The UVF/PUP spin on when the UVF does do the above mentioned is that it is not sanctioned? Just like the murders, drugs, extortion etc etc wasnt sanctioned since their last ceasefire FARCE!
    The PUP/UVF still refuse today to meet the families of the UVF murderers whos murders “wasnt sanctioned” WHY?? If the UVF/PUP want to move forward and be seen to, then they have to truthfull and honest with the victims families.
    If the people of N.Ireland actually believe that the UVF have ceased their criminal activities then i would like someone to answer my question!
    The UVF are on record saying that any of their members are going against orders from brigade staff to engage crimimality. So by that they are saying that before today the brigade staff allowed them to be involved in all the aspects of criminality. So that explains all the PUP/UVF spin in the media every time UVF memmbers got caught, “it wasnt sanctioned”(but they allowed it)?
    Could someone explain the differnce now?
    What i will do now and alot more like me is tell the PUP/UVF of the criminal activities their members are still commiting of who were and what and see what the NEW DEMOCRATIC UVF/PUP do?
    But dont hold your breath folks as we should know better “once a scumbag always a scumbag”