The UDA/UFF has said it is to draw an “Orange line around all Protestant areas” in an unprecedented move that has sparked outrage among nationalists in North Belfast.

A statement received by the North Belfast News this morning carried the get tough message, but also revealed the group had sought out a series of meetings with the British government and had held an “internal review” of the organisation.

The developments have fuelled mounting speculation of a decommissioning move by the UDA.

The UPRG statement says: “We have declared an Orange line around all Protestant areas, whilst we realise that one community is growing faster than the other we cannot allow another garden, another house or another street to be attacked.

“We can ensure to the utmost of our ability that loyalists will not breach the Orange line, will republicans do the same.”

But Sinn Féin’s Danny Lavery hit out at the statement branding it a “Derry’s walls mentality”.

“What happens if people have to legitimately cross this Orange line to get to the shops and the doctors?

“The UDA have been attacking nationalists for years on the interfaces in North Belfast. Some attacks have been carried out by nationalists and Sinn Féin have condemned these and been out trying to stop them.
The UDA have been on the ground forcing nationalists from their homes.”

Pat Convery said though any move away from violence should be welcomed it “must not be unconditional”.

“This statement talks about establishing an ‘Orange line’ around what it (UDA) considers to be loyalist areas. It is clearly taking upon itself the job of policing the line.

“This is utterly unacceptable. We want an end to orange lines or green lines and self-appointed defenders who end up lining their own pockets,” he said.

DUP MP for North Belfast Nigel Dodds said he wanted to study the statement further.

“I welcome that there are discussions going on within loyalism on the way forward.

“As far as community leaders are concerned within our respective communities, whatever influence they have to provide must be through political and community involvement and not paramilitary involvement,” he said.

The UDA statement went on to say it welcomed decommissioning by the IRA.

“During the last few weeks an internal review has taken place within the organisation.

“To this end we have instigated a series of meetings with our government in an attempt to make real progress to play a part in providing that final settlement. There are a number of hurdles to overcome but we have a timetable for our agenda.

“It is now ten years since the (Combined Loyalist Military Command) issued their statement on their cease-fire.

“Since then there have been internal feuds within loyalism and numerous deaths have taken place on both sides of the community.

“The UDA have indicated more than once that they want a final settlement with Northern Ireland, secured through peace and dialogue.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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