L’UDA CAMBIA ROTTA E NE CHIEDE IL RICONOSCIMENTO
Brigadiere dell’UDA invita l’IMC ha certificare lo ‘stato di buona salute’ dell’organizzazione paramilitare lealista
Ulster Defence Association. Organizzazione paramilitare lealista che nel corso di 24 anni dei Troubles si è macchiata di efferati crimini per lo più celandosi alle spalle dell’Ulster Freedom Fighters.
Nel 2007 la dichiarazione del cessate il fuoco, che in realtà ha significato il piombare del gruppo in un vortice di criminalità e spaccio di droga. Attività criminose vere o presunte, la realtà dei nostri giorni è che John Bunting, ‘brigadiere’ UDA di North Belfast, ha esortato l’IMC ad incontrare i leaders dell’organizzazione nel tentativo di ‘riabilitare’ l’immagine dell’Ulster Defence Association con una sorta di certificazione di ‘buona salute’.
L’invito all’Independent Monitoring Commission è giunto ufficialmente dal North Belfast Community Development and Transition Group – ex North Belfast Prisoners Aid – organizzazione a sostegno dei prigionieri affiliati all’UDA. Allo stesso tavolo si sono seduti anche funzionari di polizia e del Belfast City Council.
“Questo significa essere aperti e trasparenti. Si tratta di portare l’IMC nella comunità per far sì che siano loro stessi a vedere e sentire. Siamo impegnati nella risoluzione dei conflitti. Noi non estorciamo denaro e non vendiamo droga”, ha detto Bunting gettando il guanto di sfida a coloro – Andre Shoukri in primis – che accusa di voler deliberatamente gettare fango sulla nuova immagine dell’UDA e di screditare il buon lavoro della comunità in cui si dice i suoi membri siano profondamente radicati.
Solo la scorsa settimana l’UDA è stata accusata di aver cacciato da Tiger Bay 6 famiglie. Sulla questione si esprimerà l’IMC all’interno della relazione semetrale sull’attività delle organizzazioni paramilitari che verrà rilasciata il prossimo ottobre.
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- Families flee over UDA ‘warnings’ (bbc.co.uk)
UDA: We’ve cleaned up our act and are no longer threat (Belfast Telegraph)
Less than three years ago the UDA was neck deep in criminality. The organisation was widely involved in extortion, drug dealing, money laundering and intimidation.
Now its leaders are sitting side by side with neighbourhood police officers, government bodies and church members to discuss how best to regenerate the very areas where its members once terrorised communities.
In November 2007, the UDA leadership announced an end to violence and ordered all members not to be involved in crime or criminality.
Three years on, however, allegations of continued involvement in criminality still resound. This week the organisation was accused of intimidating families from their homes in Tiger’s Bay in north Belfast — something the UDA dismisses as “absolute nonsense”.
Following the allegations, UDA ‘brigadier’ John Bunting invited the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) to north Belfast yesterday to meet with UDA leaders in a bid to ensure the UDA organisation is given a “clean bill of health”.
The invitation to the IMC came from the North Belfast Community Development and Transition Group — previously known as North Belfast Prisoners Aid, a community group to promote the interests of UDA affiliated prisoners.
The event was also attended by neighbourhood police officers and members of Belfast City Council’s community safety partnership.
“This is us being open and transparent. It is about bringing the IMC into the community to let them see and hear for themselves. We are involved in conflict resolution. We do not extort money and we do not sell drugs,” Mr Bunting said.
“This is about bringing the IMC into north Belfast to give the organisation a clean bill of health — to let them see we can sit in an open and transparent manner,” he added.
The UDA say that former members who were evicted from the organisation for involvement in criminality have been trying to muddy its new image and discredit the good community work it says its members are deeply involved in. Jackie McDonald, widely regarded as the UDA’s most senior figure, said: “The UDA has not threatened anyone and has no intention of threatening anyone. The IMC are very concerned and we want to talk about it with them. A lot of people chose to believe the stories. This could impact on the whole peace process. If people like (Andre) Shoukri discredit the good work that is being done then they go back to the old days.
“Unfounded allegations are being directed towards the North Belfast Community Development and Transition Group, which questions the integrity of NBCD&TG. We have come a million miles from where we were but people are undermining the good work that is going on here.”
Evangelical Presbyterian minister Robert Beckett, who also attended yesterday’s meeting, said that he did not believe the UDA was behind the intimidation of any Tiger’s Bay residents and that the UDA has indeed “cleaned up its act”.
“The recent incidents in Tiger’s Bay are down to a family feud. The UDA have expelled drug dealers in the area and have handed over names of drug dealers to the police. They have expelled those involved in criminality.
“But what has happened is that those who were put out are trying everything they can to undermine their creditability.”