Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, TD, on the UDA/UPRG
“I strongly endorse Minister Margaret Ritchie’s robust statement that paramilitary violence and criminality has no place in a Northern Ireland that is fast moving beyond conflict. I believe that many of the leaders of the UDA and the UPRG have come to accept this reality and have shown leadership in trying to move forward and to deliver on it. But they now need to go significantly further.
"The recent violence in Carrickfergus and Bangor – including the attacks on police officers – was totally unacceptable. As a result, the UDA and UPRG must act quickly and decisively in restoring community and government confidence in the Conflict Transformation process. The Irish Government have been supportive of this process, as we have been supportive throughout of those progressive elements within loyalism who want to lead their people out of violence and darkness and into a brighter and productive future.
"Now is the time for crucial and courageous decisions to be taken by the leadership of the UDA and UPRG. We understand the difficulties and the challenges involved, and we will be encouraging and supportive in every way possible.
"Our core objective, as the Taoiseach has made clear on a number of occasions, is that no community should be left behind as Northern Ireland moves forward quickly into an era of genuine peace, stability and prosperity. Against this background, there is an urgent and compelling obligation on the leadership of the UDA and UPRG to deliver for both their own and the wider community. “Top