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Outlawed group Ulster Volunteer Force prepares new peace move in Northern Ireland

Outlawed group Ulster Volunteer Force prepares new peace move in Northern Ireland

The outlawed Ulster Volunteer Force, a Protestant paramilitary group long committed to terrorizing the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland, was poised Thursday to reveal new peace moves, including an order to its members to cease certain activities.
Politicians with UVF links _ among them the gang's founding father, Gusty Spence _ were expected to speak to reporters Thursday afternoon about the underground group's effort to place itself back in the center of Northern Ireland's 13-year-old peace process.
Several political sources, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the UVF was expected to announce moves to direct its members away from activities such as training and recruiting, but was not yet ready to begin disarming _ a major goal of Northern Ireland's Good Friday accord of 1998.
Pressure has steadily mounted on the UVF to begin disarmament following the IRA's decision in 2005 to surrender its much larger stockpile of weapons. The UVF has refused, arguing it needs to retain its capability to retaliate against Catholics for any IRA attacks _ a position fundamentally undermined by the IRA's disciplined, sustained conversion to peace.
The UVF killed more than 400 people, most of them Catholic civilians, from 1966 to 1994, when it called a cease-fire in response to a truce called by its Catholic-based enemy, the Irish Republican Army. Since then its members have rarely mounted attacks on the Catholic side of the community.
But the UVF, which has an estimated 500 members today, remains a major criminal force within working-class Protestant communities in Northern Ireland and occasionally wages deadly criminal feuds with rivals in other Protestant paramilitary groups.
In 2005, a panel of experts called the International Monitoring Commission blamed the UVF for killing four people and mounting dozens of attacks that year in a campaign to wipe out a breakaway Protestant gang, the Loyalist Volunteer Force. The panel, which Britain and Ireland formed to assess paramilitary behavior, also blamed UVF leaders for encouraging Protestants to launch riotous attacks on police.


Updated : 2021-05-19 01:41 GMT+08:00