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Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 23:02 GMT
'Common sense' will follow UDP's demise
A UDA/UFF mural in Belfast
UDA has increasingly rejected political direction
A Presbyterian minister has said the decision to dissolve the Ulster Democratic Party won't necessarily lead to an increase in violence by the loyalist group, the UDA.

The Reverend Roy Magee, who helped broker the 1994 loyalist ceasefire, was speaking on Wednesday following a statement by the leadership of the UDP that it was being dissolved.

He said the leaders of the loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association realise the government would not tolerate terrorist violence, particularly after the 11 September attacks in America.

"I am fairly well convinced that there is enough common sense within the leadership to see that a deterioration in the situation of violence would create massive action against anyone perpetrating it," he said.

Reverend Roy Magee
Roy Magee:"Common sense will prevail"

The statement by the UDP on Wednesday announced the party was folding "without rancour or ill-will".

Relations have been strained between the UDP and the paramilitary group, as the UDA's support for the 1998 Good Friday Agreement waned and it became increasingly involved in violence.

In October, the ceasefire of the UDA - the largest loyalist paramilitary organisation in the province - was declared over by Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid.

It followed police security reports that the ceasefire - called shortly after the IRA's in 1994 - had been broken on a number of occasions.

The UDP leadership statement said: "During the past months intensive discussions have taken place within the Ulster Democratic Party regarding the future electoral and representative viability of the party.

Party leader Gary McMichael has continued to support Agreement
Party leader Gary McMichael had continued to support Agreement

"These discussions are now at an end and it has been decided that, from this date, the UDP should be dissolved and therefore cease to exist as a political party."

The statement added that the UDP leadership - including former leader Gary McMichael and David Adams would not make any further comment on the decision.

Representation

The leader of the Progressive Unionist Party said he was disappointed at the decision.

David Ervine said the decision to dissolve the party was a big loss, but that the UDA would continue to have representation at political level through individuals close to the group.

David Ervine PUP leader
David Ervine: "It is a great loss"

Increasingly, the UDA has been angered at what it sees as concessions to republicans in the peace process.

On 10 July the UDA leadership said that while its ceasefire was intact "the UDA have withdrawn our support from the Good Friday Agreement".

Mr McMichael said after the July statement that the UDP could no longer speak for the UDA because "it was at odds with the UDP decision".

All-party talks

The UDP was involved in the all-party Mitchell negotiations which led to the signing of the Agreement.

Although many UDA prisoners secured early release under the Agreement, none of the UDP's political leaders won a seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

In January some of the UDP's constituency associations separated from the main UDP group in a rift over the Agreement.

The party said in the June elections that it could not afford to stand candidates in the local government elections.

Mr McMichael and Frank McCoubrey stood as independent candidates.

It is unclear whether they would consider forming a new separate party.


Assembly back

IRA arms breakthrough

Background

Loyalist ceasefire

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SPECIAL REPORT: IRA

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See also:

27 Oct 99 | Northern Ireland
Unionist rifts block peace - McMichael
25 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Loyalist 'still committed' to agreement
21 Apr 98 | Latest News
UDP attacks Paisley
12 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
UDA ceasefire: 1994 - 2001
12 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Q and A: Loyalist ceasefires
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