Following the recent 18th IMC report and the attack on a policeman near Castlederg, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, MP, has told the House of Commons that the government is de-specifying the UVF and Red Hand Commandos and specifying Óglaigh na hEireann. The NIO statement points back to a UVF statement made in May last year, ahead of that paramilitary/political meeting, and despite the concerns of the IICD about what ‘beyond reach’ actually meant. Adds BBC report
Shaun Woodward said: Under legislation I am obliged to review the status of all specified and other paramilitary organisations and I have today laid an order before Parliament seeking approval to despecify the UVF and RHC.
Their statement of last May committed the organisation to assuming a non-military civilianised role. Government undertook to review the position at that time and we have now taken a careful look at the organisations position.
In the light of this and in acknowledgement of their commitment and additional factors, I have therefore concluded that there are sufficient grounds to de-specify the UVF/RHC.
Based upon my review, informed by the recent assessment from the IMC of ONH, it is my intention to specify this organisation.
And the notes to the statement
Note to editors
Following a review of specified and paramilitary organisation in line with obligations under the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 the government has determined to de-specify the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Red Hand Commandos (RHC), as well as specifying Óglaigh na hEireann (ONH)
The order to despecify the UVF/RHC and specify ONH will be made under the terms of the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998. The order will be debated in both houses.
There are no changes to the status of other specified organisations. These organisations are as follows:
The Continuity Irish Republican Army
The Loyalist Volunteer Force
The Orange Volunteers
The Real Irish Republican Army
The Red Hand Defenders