“It is very sinister in terms of the direction the UVF is taking as a group…”

The BBC report that, following a Policing Board meeting, Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris has said that UVF sanctioning of the murder of Bobby Moffett was “an active line of enquiry”.

Additionally, from the same BBC report

ACC Harris said the UVF remained a coherent organisation.

“The UVF remains very much an organised entity.

“So I wouldn’t recognise a description which described them as being fractured in any way. They are a group which still has its own internal discipline intact.”

He added: “It is very sinister in terms of the direction the UVF is taking as a group, but they are a terrorist group and that’s how they remain.”

Worth comparing that to the assessment contained in the latest IMC report [pdf file]

Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Red Hand Commando (RHC)

2.45 In our Twenty-Second Report we said that the decommissioning of arms in June 2009 had been a very significant and positive development which was clear evidence of the organisation’s coherence and strategic direction. There had been other evidence of this, such as the expulsion of members who had behaved unacceptably and the steps the leadership took to ensure members did not react improperly to dissident republican violence. Although some members remained involved in crime, and we could not rule out that some arms had been retained in some parts of the organisation, we increasingly saw a picture of an organisation going out of business.

2.46 Nothing has happened during the period under review to cause us to reconsider our previous assessment of the direction in which the UVF leadership is seeking to take the organisation or its commitment to the strategy it enunciated three years ago. The leadership is cohesive. In the period under review it continued its work to guide the organisation away from paramilitary activity and to reduce the incidence of criminality amongst members, and it made worthwhile progress to that end. Members were expelled for breaching the organisation’s policies. It remains very significant that it was the first of the loyalist organisations to complete decommissioning, and that it did so at a time of increasing dissident republican activity. But the fact that the organisation had given up its weapons served to heighten anxiety amongst some members during the period under review. This was prompted mainly by the level and nature of dissident activity, coming at a time when some felt their communities were freshly vulnerable, and in some instances also by anxieties about police enquiries into old crimes. The leadership addressed these challenges and we are confident it will continue to do so. It is noteworthy that members did not resort to extreme measures against dissident republicans.

2.47 Notwithstanding both the commitment and the efforts of the leadership, some members of the UVF remained involved in a variety of illegal activity. Of the paramilitary-style assaults during the period that can be attributed to a particular loyalist group, the largest number were committed by UVF members. As we reported six months ago, we cannot rule out that some arms were retained in some parts of the organisation, but we believe that any attempts by individuals to acquire weapons in the period under review were unsanctioned, just as they were outside the organisation’s strategy. Some members remained deeply involved in serious crime, including drug dealing, fuel laundering, the sale of counterfeit goods, intimidation and extortion, though we believe the proceeds were generally for personal gain. We believe it was also the case that some members gathered intelligence about, or targeted, those they believed to be dissident republicans, to be involved in anti-social behaviour, or who were foreign nationals. Although senior figures may have sanctioned some of this activity in the case of dissidents, perhaps to ease anxiety on the part of members, we have no reason to believe that this implies any general change of direction. Members were amongst those who orchestrated civil disorders in Portadown in November 2009.

2.48 Overall, therefore, we believe the organisation remains committed to its path. It took some successful steps to move further along that path and we believe will continue to do so. The leadership nevertheless faced some challenges, but the fact that it addressed them is in our view an indication of its commitment to steering the UVF away from paramilitary activity. [added emphasis]

Update Given that, party leader, Dawn Purvis resigned from the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party as a result of the murder of Bobby Moffett, it also worth noting that “independent” Policing Board member David Rose declares these interests [pdf file]

Board member of North Down Impact (Community Restorative Justice Project); Chair of the North Down Constituency Association of the Progressive Unionist Party; Member of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) Executive

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