Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The British loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) has been called on to cease all criminal and terrorist activity

After meeting Northern Secretary Peter Hain and PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan at Stormont to discuss recent threats to individuals from the UVF, the SDLP's Patsy McGlone insisted the paramilitary group needed to deliver an end to drug dealing, extortion, targeting and violence.

The Mid Ulster Assembly member, who joined SDLP deputy leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell, South Antrim MLA Thomas Burns and Magherafelt councillor Kate Lagan at the meeting, said they had also sought assurances about the safety of the hundreds of people who had been warned recently their security was under threat from the UVF.

"Any statement emanating from the UVF must reflect the need to move away from paramilitarism and crime for good," he said.

"It needs to bring to a close all activities from drug dealing to extortion to threats or violence.

"Mr Hain was very sympathetic today towards those who have received threats and assured us he was at one with us in wanting to see a complete end to such activities from loyalist paramilitaries."

In recent days the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), which is linked to UVF, has met Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde and Mr Hain amid mounting speculation that the paramilitary group will make a statement on its future.

Northern Ireland's ceasefire watchdog, the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), last week urged the UVF and the other main loyalist group, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), to respond to the changing political circumstances in Northern Ireland by following the Provisional IRA's lead in winding down their criminal and paramilitary activities.

Over 100 people were warned about their safety recently by the UVF and a man was charged by police following the seizure of documents allegedly relating to the group.

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