UDP is dissolved after row with paramilitaries

The Ulster Democratic Party has called it a day after a falling out with loyalist paramilitaries over support for the Good Friday Agreement.

The UDP which has links to proscribed loyalist paramilitary organisation the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), announced in a statement on Wednesday November 28 it was folding “without rancour or ill-will.”

Relations have been strained between the UDP and the paramilitary group, as the UDA's support for the 1998 Good Friday Agreement waned and it became increasingly involved in violence.

In October the ceasefire of the UDA - the largest loyalist paramilitary organisation in the province - was declared over by Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid.

The UDP leadership statement said: "During the past months intensive discussions have taken place within the Ulster Democratic Party regarding the future electoral and representative viability of the party.

"These discussions are now at an end and it has been decided that, from this date, the UDP should be dissolved and therefore cease to exist as a political party."

Responding to the announcement Sinn Féin assembly member Alex Maskey said: “The reality for well over a year now is that the UDA have been involved in a vicious anti-Catholic pogrom. They were involved in the disgraceful blockade of Holy Cross School and they continue to throw pipe bombs at Catholics almost on a nightly basis. The fact that the UDP existed has in reality had little or no bearing on the situation on the ground, especially for Catholics in areas like north Belfast.” (AMcE)

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