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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 16:06 GMT
Loyalists told to hand over guns
Shaun Woodward
Shaun Woodward has urged action from loyalists
Loyalist paramilitaries must decommission to prove they are serious about ending violence, the Northern Ireland secretary has said.

Shaun Woodward was speaking after the latest report by the Independent Monitoring Commission.

It said there was no early prospect of contact between the UDA and arms body leading to weapons being destroyed.

The rival UVF said in May it was putting weapons beyond reach - but was not handing them over.

Mr Woodward said he recognised that there were some loyalist leaders who are trying to move their communities out of conflict.

"As the report makes clear, decommissioning is the test by which any paramilitary organisation must ultimately expect to be judged," he said.

UDA flag
The report said there was no prospect of the UDA destroying arms

"As with the Provisional IRA, ultimately loyalists will be judged by what they do, not by what they say.

"I urge both the UVF and the UDA to demonstrate courage and leadership to take the next vital step."

The four-member commission confirmed the UDA was involved in clashes with a rival faction in Carrickfergus in July and said it had to bear responsibility for the wounding of a police officer in a gun attack.

UDA members, it also said, took part in serious rioting which erupted in August in the loyalist Kilcooley estate in Bangor following police raids.

The organisation was blamed for other attacks including the petrol bombing in Ballymena of premises occupied by two Polish nationals.

Despite efforts by the leadership to discourage involvement in crime, members also engaged between 1 March and 31 August in drug dealing, loan sharking and the sale of counterfeit goods.

Summer rioting in Bangor
Up to 200 people were involved in summer rioting in Bangor

Turning to the IRA, Mr Woodward welcomed the assessment by the ceasefire watchdog that the organisation remained committed to a stable and peaceful path.

The commission said: "Some members in some areas have not entirely moved on from the view that dealing with anti-social behaviour is appropriately mediated by threats and social exclusion, as a form of community control, rather than by proper human rights compliant community policing.

"That said, we remain of the firm view that the organisation is fully committed to the political path and will not be diverted from it."

The report covers the six-month period to the end of August.

'Vindication'

The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson said the report was a vindication of the DUP's law and order strategy.

"The IMC recognise the importance of Sinn Fein's decision to support the police, the courts and the rule of law," the Lagan Valley MP said.

John Dallat of the SDLP said the report showed that hardcore elements within the UDA had no intention of decommissioning.

"The only hope is that the tragic deaths of young people through drugs in UDA-controlled areas will create a new momentum within the community to rid themselves of these parasites," the assembly member said.

Independent MEP Jim Allister said the IMC report showed the organisation's "politically-compliant mindset".

"Even when it comes to dealing with the blatantly continuing violence of the UDA it seeks to sanitise the leadership as best it can and create this phoney distinction between what paramilitaries actually do and the weasel words which their leaders deploy," he said.

Last month's killing of south Armagh man Paul Quinn in a County Monaghan barn, along with allegations that IRA members were involved, will feature in the commission's next report.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Shaun Woodward speaking about the report



SEE ALSO
UDA faction 'weapons destroyed'
02 Nov 07 |  Northern Ireland
How UDA cash carrot was pulled
16 Oct 07 |  Northern Ireland
Minister stops loyalist project
16 Oct 07 |  Northern Ireland
Loyalist riots 'have done damage'
04 Aug 07 |  Northern Ireland
Minister wants PSNI rioting talks
02 Aug 07 |  Northern Ireland

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