The Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie has stated that the UDA must engage in a process of decommissioning, overseen by DeChastelain, and move to end criminality if the funding of the UPRG project is to proceed. And they have 60 days to do that in. Personally I’m with Hugh Orde.. and they’ve had more than enough time already. I’ll add any more details as they emerge. Adds Press release from the Department here. And the Minister’s full statement here Update According to a usually reliable Slugger source the Social Development Minister wanted to withdraw the funding immediately.. but none of her Executive colleagues would support that position. Which brings into question what will happen after the 60 days are up..From the Minister’s statement
I have decided therefore that the funding for the CTI project will cease unless there is clear evidence that the UDA means what it says. The funding will end 60 days from now unless there is clear and demonstrable evidence that the UDA has engaged meaningfully with the IICD and has started to decommission its weapons.
I will also want to see evidence that the UDA has moved irreversibly away from criminality and violence to positive and lawful community transformation.
If the evidence and commitment that I seek are forthcoming the funding for the project will remain in place for the three year period as long as the progress towards decommissioning and reducing violence and criminality is sustained.
If, however, what I seek is not evident within 60 days the funding will stop and the project will be wound up. Consequently I have suggested to the Farset organisation, which administers the project, that the staff involved whose interests need to be recognised be put on protective notice.
The conflict is over but the peace is not easy.
This is a test of that.
I’d suggest they’ve already failed that test..
More Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey criticises the announcement as “public posturing”… while Irish Government Minister Dermot Ahern supports the move.