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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 February, 2004, 14:50 GMT
Loyalist group extends ceasefire
UDA mural
The UDA announced its ceasefire one year ago
The loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association has announced an extension of its ceasefire.

In a statement read by its political wing, the Ulster Political Research Group, the organisation said it hoped for a political agreement in the province which all sides could support.

The organisation said it remained deeply suspicious of the intention and objectives of the republican movement

However, it added it wanted to develop relationships with the broader nationalist community.

The UDA announced a ceasefire - what it called a 12-month period of military inactivity - a year ago.

October 1994 - Combined Loyalist Military Command ceasefire announced
January 1998 - UDA admits to breaches of ceasefire
July 2001 - UDA withdraws support for Good Friday Agreement
October 2001 - Government says UDA ceasefire is no longer recognised
November 2001 - Political wing - Ulster Democratic Party "dissolved"
February 2003 - UDA announces 12-month period of "military inactivity"

"The Ulster Freedom Fighters, the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Young Militants have agreed to the indefinite extension of their military inactivity," said UPRG spokesman Tommy Kirkham.

"In addition we will maintain our contact with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning and with the Independent Monitoring Commission in order to explore the context in which definitive closure can be brought to all paramilitary activity."

The statement added that this would require irreversible steps to be taken by the republican movement.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness said if the statement meant an end to sectarian violence by the UDA he welcomed it.

But he said people would judge the organisation by its actions.

"The sectarian attacks which the UDA have been orchestrating must be brought to an immediate end," he added.

The indefinite extension to the ceasefire is being viewed as positive and follows a period of consultation inside the loyalist organisation.

However, last week the chief constable linked the paramilitary organisation to murders, drugs operations and other criminal activities.

The UPRG recently met the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, Secretary of State Paul Murphy and Security Minister Jane Kennedy.

The group argues that loyalism must have an input into the review of the Good Friday Agreement and a say in Northern Ireland's political future.

However, the group has been told that paramilitary activity and politics do not mix and they must choose between the two.

BBC NI security editor Brian Rowan
"There have always been doubts about the UDA ceasefire"

BBC NI's Will Leitch
talks to Deirdre McMahon, the mother of a UDA murder victim

Analysis: UDA 'must win trust'
24 Feb 04  |  Northern Ireland
UDA 'not on ceasefire'
22 Jan 04  |  Northern Ireland
UDA 'disillusioned' over ceasefire
07 Aug 03  |  Northern Ireland
Cautious welcome for loyalist move
23 Feb 03  |  Northern Ireland
Analysis: Is the ceasefire for real?
22 Feb 03  |  Northern Ireland

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