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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January, 2004, 17:56 GMT
UDA 'not on ceasefire'
Police said the UDA was behind a series of security alerts
Police said the UDA was behind a series of security alerts
The loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association cannot seriously be considered to be on ceasefire, Security Minister Jane Kennedy has said.

She blamed the organisation for recent hoax bombs across Belfast and attacks on prison officers' homes at a meeting with the Ulster Political Research Group, which speaks on behalf of the UDA.

"This morning's meeting was an important opportunity to remind those who have influence with paramilitary organisations of just how clearly and directly the activities of those groups are viewed by government and ministers," she said.

"We will work with those who want to engage in democratic politics, but there can be no place for paramilitary activities.

They wanted to speak to me specifically about the situation at Maghaberry prison and we discussed that
Jane Kennedy
"The recent attacks on the homes of prison officers or the hoax bombs at schools and elsewhere in the city and criminal activity - none of that is acceptable."

Mrs Kennedy said the UPRG accepted that such activity undermined it.

"They wanted to speak to me specifically about the situation at Maghaberry prison and we discussed that."

Police said the UDA was behind a series of security alerts which brought parts of Belfast to a standstill last week.

Jackie McDonald
(The minister) is right - there's no place for the pipe bomb in politics
Jackie McDonald
UPRG spokesman
They said it was in response to the situation at Maghaberry prison in County Antrim where loyalist prisoners were behind serious disturbances.

UPRG spokesman Jackie McDonald said emotions were running high over the prisons issue.

"There's no one particular person or group responsible for all the actions, but (Ms Kennedy) is right - there's no place for the pipe bomb in politics," said the senior loyalist.

"It's like the armalite and the ballot box - unfortunately people refer back to that and say 'well it worked for them, it might work for us'."

He said people had worked hard within the loyalist communities to "keep a reign on things".

Frank McCoubrey from the UPRG described the meeting with Mrs Kennedy as constructive.

"Obviously a lot of the time was taken up with what had happened in more recent times in relation to the prison.

"It was touched on about the attacks on people's homes. The UPRG and the prison spokespersons for our group have come out and clearly said that attacks on anyone are wrong.

"We put our cards on the table - it was an open and honest meeting and I'm looking forward to more of them."

'Disillusioned'

Last August, the UDA called on the British Government to recognise its ceasefire.

The UPRG said members of the paramilitary organisation were disillusioned by the government's response to its six-month-old initiative aimed at reducing trouble in loyalist areas.

The UDA said it believed loyalists were being treated more unfavourably than republicans.

The ceasefires of the UDA/UFF and Loyalist Volunteer Force have not been recognised since October 2001 when the then secretary of state, John Reid, declared them over following a series of sectarian pipe bombings, murder and attacks on the police.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI Security Editor Brian Rowan:
"Given the UDA's activities during the past year, there are many questioning whether it has any commitment to its ceasefire"



SEE ALSO:
Security alert declared a hoax
23 Sep 03  |  Northern Ireland
Security alerts hit city
30 Jul 03  |  Northern Ireland


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