09/07/2009

UPRG Ends PSNI And Stormont Support

Just weeks after loyalist decommissioning, a north-west branch of the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) - an organisation with links to the UDA - has withdrawn its support for policing and the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland.

The group has questioned police impartiality in the region, claiming officers are being directed by a 'green agenda'.

A UPRG spokesman from the Londonderry area (pictured) said local loyalists are being demonised, suggesting there is apathy for protestant communities from the Stormont government.

According to the group, PSNI officers are not tackling violence in nationalist areas, instead ordering under-attack protestants to remain in their homes, while "petrol bombs and missiles rain down on them".

"We believe the PSNI are working to a nationalist agenda in Londonderry and an increasingly political agenda," said the UPRG spokesman.

The group claimed CCTV in the city is not being used fairly, citing 30 incidents where police have been able to identify protestant youths, but failed to pick-up on republican troublemakers.

"This gives an unfair picture as to who starts trouble and increases tensions into the bargain," the UDA political researchers said.

"We do not condone any illegal activity at any interface and call on it to cease, but until there is a root and branch change in policy and we see equality in interface areas and in policing in general - the UPRG in Londonderry is unable to support the PSNI."

Mainstream unionism's "scathing attacks on loyalist initiatives designed to remove tensions" further compound problems, the statement adds.

But a Coleraine Sinn Féin councillor, Billy Leonard, has accused local loyalists of running "a semi-independent little empire" in the north-west area.

The republican said he was not surprised by the UPRG's announcement: "Republican, nationalists and even some unionists have always believed that loyalists in Coleraine ran their semi-independent little empire. Therefore in one way there won't be any surprise at the statement."

Mr Leonard said UDA members were claiming to be the "injured party" despite the group's alleged links to the murder of catholic father-of-four Kevin McDaid.

"How can they make outlandish accusations when the dogs in the street know what happened and what has happened in this area over many years?" asked Councillor Leonard.

He called on unionist politicians to "play their part", after remaining "semi-detached on many issues", according to Mr Leonard.

Last month the independent decommissioning body confirmed that loyalist paramilitaries, the Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commandos, had put their weapons beyond use.

The Ulster Defence Association was said to have begun the process of decommissioning arms.

(PR/JM)

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