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