Sunday Life

UDA decision on future due

By Alan Murray
10 October 2004

The UDA is expected to decide on its future 'role' this week.

Sources within the organisation say the outcome of talks on how the terror group will respond to a major IRA statement on disarmament, should be known "within a couple of days".

As Sunday Life reported last week, a debate is being conducted at all levels of the organisation, with south Belfast UDA boss Jackie McDonald urging fellow brigadiers to prepare for a non-paramilitary future.

But indications yesterday were that McDonald failed in his bid to persuade at least three fellow brigadiers to declare an end to all paramilitary and criminal activity, later this year.

The news comes in spite of an NIO warning that it will move to crush any loyalist grouping which continues to operate along paramilitary lines, following a major IRA announcement on arms.

Said one senior UDA source: "We've had this message through a back channel, from the government.

"But it hasn't caused a stampede. We know that Gerry Adams and the IRA are given carrots by Downing Street, and we've to get beaten with the stick.

"But sure, hasn't that been the picture since Hugh Orde became Chief Constable - smash the loyalists."

Added the source: "Orde has a big police station in the Oldpark and he can't - or won't - stop the nationalist raids into the Protestant areas there.

"That sends the most important message: he won't crush the nationalists, but he's ready to crush the loyalists.

"Well, we'll see what happens."

McDonald, who played a round of golf earlier this year with Martin McAleese, husband of Irish President Mary McAleese, has declined to comment.

But well-placed sources in the organisation say he has, so far, been unable to garner enough support to get the organisation to agree to match the IRA's expected change of direction.

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