View Full Version : Ireland: Protestant paramilitary force 'end operations'

02-12-2006, 02:39 PM
UVF says the war is over at last
The Observer (http://www.observer.co.uk/)

Ireland's oldest terror group, the Ulster Volunteer Force, is dissolving, The Observer has learnt, marking a major development in the Northern Ireland peace process.A UVF leader said yesterday: 'The UVF is going out of business because there is no need for it any more. The IRA's war is over, republicans have accepted the principle of consent. It doesn't make sense to go on. If we are not being attacked by armed republicanism any more, then there is no point in having a UVF.'

The UVF leader confirmed that the organisation plans to wind up all its paramilitary units and command structures. However, the UVF would not follow the IRA and decommission an arsenal that could arm up to two infantry battalions, he said. 'The UVF and its political allies would have nothing to gain from decommissioning. The weapons will be put into deep freeze as a reassurance for those worried about future events.

'But the UVF as an organisation will be no more. Members have three choices: they can go into full-time politics in the Progressive Unionist Party; they can go into community work in their areas; or they can simply leave and get on with the rest of their lives,' he said.

The dissolution of the UVF, almost exactly 40 years after it was reconstituted, is a major boost for the peace process. Originally formed in 1912 by Sir Edward Carson in order to oppose Home Rule, the reborn UVF of 1966 fired the first shots of the Troubles.

UVF commanders have spent the past six months discussing its future with several thousand of its rank and file across the north of Ireland. Its leadership estimates that it will be able to stand down all units by the end of the year.

The pace of change within the organisation has quickened since the demise of its smaller rival, the Loyalist Volunteer Force. Last year, the UVF carried out a war of annihilation against the LVF, killing several of its leading activists in the Greater Belfast area.

The UVF leader said: 'The loyalist dissidents are gone, the republican dissidents are in disarray and heavily infiltrated by the state. And when you realise that even the IRA was penetrated from the top, it only confirms what we have been thinking: the UVF as an army should no longer exist. There will be no more military parades, no firing over bonfires on 11 July, no more displays of arms and militaria.'

The UVF commander said that it was not collaborating directly with the other loyalist movement, the Ulster Defence Association, to end all loyalist terrorist activity. He dismissed claims that both organisations had re-formed the Combined Loyalist Military Command, the umbrella body that helped to bring about the 1994 loyalist ceasefires.

'We are acting on our own, but I am certain the UDA is thinking on the same lines. The UVF leadership is relieved that it's going this way. After 40 years, it's time to go out of business,' he added.