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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 September 2007, 19:13 GMT 20:13 UK
Minister's UDA meeting finishes
UDA flag
Margaret Ritchie is having talks with UDA representatives
Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie's meeting with UDA leader Jackie McDonald and political representatives has ended.

She again warned she would withdraw funding for a 1.2m project aimed at helping the UDA abandon violence.

Further meetings are planned, but the minister made it clear that her position had not changed.

"There must be meaningful engagement with de Chastelain and a start to decommissioning," said Ms Ritchie.

"That of course has to be verified by de Chastelain and by his commission, which are the standard procedures in place."

Mr McDonald and his Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) associates described the meeting as "positive", but would not be drawn on decommissioning.

The minister's ultimatum followed disturbances in Bangor and Carrickfergus during the summer which the police have blamed on the UDA.

60 Days

On 10 August, Ms Ritchie said the UDA must start decommissioning weapons and end criminal activity within 60 days.

She said she would withdraw more than 1m of funding for a conflict transformation initiative if this did not happen.

Jackie McDonald, the organisation's most senior member, and members of the UPRG met the minister on Thursday night in a bid to persuade her not to withdraw the funding.

Both Mr McDonald and the UPRG have said the money is not going directly to members of the UDA, but to help people in working class loyalist areas badly affected by the Troubles.

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