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BBC News Front Page | World | In depth | Northern Ireland

The search for peace
Loyalist Ceasefire
October, 1994
Profiles Themes
• Gary McMichael
• David Ervine

• Loyalist splinter threat
• Decommissioning
Loyalist Ceasefire
• Hume-Adams statement
• Downing Street Declarations
• IRA ceasefire

• LVF
• PUP
• UDP
• UFF
• UVF

Events Parties and paramilitaries
Piece together the puzzle of the Northern Ireland conflict by clicking the related subjects above.

• Gusty Spence announces the loyalist ceasefire



• David Ervine welcomes the ceasefire

Loyalist Ceasefire

Loyalist mural in Belfast

Six weeks after the IRA ceasefire, loyalist paramilitary groups followed suit. Their statement stressed that their ceasefire was conditional on the IRA maintaining their own. "The sole responsibility for a return to war rests with them" it said.

The loyalists also offered a statement of remorse. Gusty Spence, who almost 30 years earlier had been convicted of one of the first murders of the Troubles read the stunning statement of apology:

"In all sincerity, we offer to the loved ones of all innocent victims over the past 25 years abject and true remorse - Let us firmly resolve to respect our differing views of freedom, culture and aspiration and never again permit our political circumstances to degenerate into bloody warfare."

With both sides under ceasefire, a Forum for Peace and Reconciliation met in Dublin. All sides attended except the unionist and loyalist groups. But its main aim had been achieved: Sinn Fein had been brought into the political process.

Since that date, many question marks have hung over what actually constitutes a "ceasefire" among the loyalist paramilitaries. The UDP were temporarily barred from the 1998 peace talks over killings carried out by the UFF (though so were Sinn Fein following IRA violence). In 2000 loyalists began turning their guns on each other in a bloody territorial feud mainly based in Belfast.

By the end of the year some 600 people had been forced from their homes as the internecine fighting continued. As tension mounted over the lack of political movement in 2001, sectarian attacks against Catholic homes increased disturblingly.

The RUC said that these attacks were being carried out by people aligned to the loyalist paramilitary organisations - the unanswered question was whether or not the attacks were being sanctioned by the heads of the organisations.

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