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Last Updated: Friday, 13 October 2006, 07:18 GMT 08:18 UK
UDA holds talks with peacemakers
UDA flag
The UDA has been holding secret talks
The Ulster Defence Association has been meeting this week for secret talks with international peacemakers.

It is an attempt to draw up plans for the loyalist paramilitary group to abandon criminality and violence.

Last week, the UDA said it was keen to stand down and needed help to achieve this move.

Frankie Gallagher of Ulster Political Research Group, which gives advice to the UDA, said both communities should let the peacemakers prove their intent.

"They can safely say the UDA has changed," he said.

"What we are doing now is trying to consolidate that change, create structures where it continues to change, and where that change can be pre-determined."

He said the 'change' would "turn into something that is going to be of benefit for people, our communities, where we reduce fear, where we don't have intimidation".

'Community body'

It is understood the move has been endorsed by a Catholic community worker who has been working behind the scenes to persuade them to follow a political path.

Senior commanders in the paramilitary organisation were among those attending the launch of a document on the organisation's future last week.

At that time, Mr Gallagher said they believed the "war was over."

The pamphlet outlining ways of transforming loyalist areas was published, following a consultation within working class Protestant areas. It includes the views of UDA members.

One of the UDA's most notorious units has said it wants to disband, but wants the government to give it 8.5m to help the process.

The South East Antrim Brigade of the UDA has been responsible for dozens of murders throughout the Troubles.

It said it now wanted to become "a community development body".




SEE ALSO
UDA group 'wants 8m to disband'
02 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland
New UDA leadership is appointed
28 Jul 06 |  Northern Ireland
NIO rejects 'funding spin' claims
06 Jun 06 |  Northern Ireland
Why UDA expelled 'unlikely loyalists'
21 Jun 06 |  Northern Ireland



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