LA SOUTH EAST ANTRIM BRIGADE DELL’UDA PRONTA A CONSEGNARE LE ARMI
Dopo i disordini di matrice settaria dell’ultima settimana, la South East Antrim Brigade dell’UDA ha confermato questo week end, l’intenzione di consegnare armi, esplosivi e munizioni prima della scadenza fissata dal governo britannico per il disarmo dei gruppi paramilitari lealisti, ovvero entro il prossimo mese di agosto.
Il leader della brigato dell’UDA ha dichiarato in un’intervista esclusiva all’Observer, che gli armamenti al completo verranno consegnati al generale canadese John de Chastelain e al suo team internazionale di esperti nello smatellamento degli arsenali.
La South East Antrim Brigade rifiuta di riconoscere l’autorità della leadership dell’UDA di sede a Belfast e sostiene che il disarmo è ormai inevitabile e voluto da tutta la comunità del Nord.
La zona controllata dalla fazione è stata la patria di alcuni dei più brutali e famigerati terroristi lealisti durante i Troubles. L’area sotto il controllo della brigata si estende dal nord della periferia di Belfast fino a Larne, attraverso le città di Ballymena e Antrim. Sebbene Coleraine non sia inclusa, il leader dell’UDA ha condannato l’uccisione di Kevin McDaid, nonché il tentato omicidio di Damien Fleming, che è mantenuto in vita da una macchina.
Il leader della South East Antrim Brigade ha precisato che la recente recrudescenza dell’attività dei dissidenti repubblicani non influenzerà il processo di disarmo ormai in corso.
Ha inoltre aggiuntoche non fornirà a De Chastelain un inventario delle armi ancora in loro possesso, ma darà una prova sufficiente aconvincere la ocmunità che le armi sono state poste fuori uso.
UDA rebels decommission and condemn McDaid killing (The Observer)
Amid fears of resurgent sectarian tensions this summer, following the murder of a Catholic youth worker last week, one of the most dangerous factions of the Ulster Defence Association has revealed it is about to decommission its arms.
The UDA’s rebel South East Antrim Brigade confirmed this weekend that it is preparing to hand over guns, ammunition and explosives before the British government’s decommissioning deadline in August. In an exclusive interview with the Observer, the leader of the UDA brigade said the weaponry will be surrendered to Canadian General John de Chastelain and his team of international arms decommissioning experts.
While the UDA’s South East Antrim Brigade refuses to recognise the authority of the mainstream UDA leadership based in Belfast, the faction said loyalist disarmament was inevitable and desired by the entire Northern Irish community. The area controlled by the faction has been home to some of the most hardline and notorious loyalist terrorists of the Troubles. They included John “Grugg” Gregg, the UDA gunman who shot and wounded Gerry Adams during an assassination attempt on the Sinn Féin leadership in 1984. Gregg was shot dead in 2003 during an internal UDA feud by members of Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair’s C-Company faction.
South East Antrim stretches from the northern suburbs of Belfast up to Larne and across to Ballymena and Antrim town. Although the “Brigade” area does not include Coleraine, the town where Catholic youth worker Kevin McDaid was murdered last Sunday night, the UDA leader condemned the killing, as well as the attempted murder of Damien Fleming, who remains on a life support.
McDaid was set upon by a gang of up to 15 loyalists after the climax of the Scottish Premier League football season. “No one should lose their life because of a football match. There should be full co-operation with the police investigation into this murder,” the UDA man said.
On disarmament, he said: “Everybody wants to do this, everybody is now on board. Something has to be done by August, so it’s better we take the initiative and do it before then. It’s right, not only inevitable, to do it now.” He added that handing over the illegal arsenal to General de Chastelain’s commission was part of the “going-away exercise” aimed at ending loyalist paramilitarism.
“The last report by the Independent Monitoring Commission noted that the South East Antrim Brigade was moving in the right direction. That ends with the arms given up and the group becoming an old ex-comrades’ association and nothing more. You have to remember that in this brigade area a lot of our former members are now in their 60s and 70s. They want all the trappings of paramilitarism gone, including the guns. No one needs them.
“The pace of change in this area will not be dictated by what other loyalist groups do or don’t do, although we think the other UDA brigades and the UVF and Red Hand Commando are probably moving in the same direction. The weapons, like the conflict, are a thing of the past.”
The recent upsurge in dissident republican terrorism and the murders in March of two British soldiers and the first PSNI officer would not deflect his brigade from decommissioning, he said.
“We can’t allow the republican dissidents to dictate our political agenda any more. They don’t want us to decommission; rather they want to portray us as a threat to the nationalist community and they can then paint themselves as their defenders. We are not falling into that trap.”
He would not give an inventory of how many weapons the UDA in South East Antrim still controls. However he said De Chastelain would be given enough proof to convince the public that their arms were put beyond use. “The whole community will be put at ease by what is going to happen with the arms and our wholly peaceful intent,” he said.
He added that some outstanding issues, such as a welfare programme for “ex-combatants”, would have to be worked out with the British government in the run-up to the arms handover: “There could be up to 2,000 ex-UDA members living in this area, many of whom need jobs, have health problems related to time in jail or other issues connected to the conflict, who all have to be looked after.”