Church Leaders Call UVF & UDA To Civilianise

Statement by East Belfast Church Leaders

12th February 2019

The events of the past 3 weeks have highlighted the violence, intimidation, and criminality that still persist in East Belfast, much of it associated with paramilitary groups.  As pastors and ministers passionately concerned for the people of this community and city we want to express our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the family of Ian Ogle.

Ongoing paramilitary activity is part of the legacy of the past.  It is almost 25 years since the ceasefires and over 20 years since the Good Friday Agreement.  As church leaders in this community, we contend that there is no longer any continuing need, role or justification for paramilitary organisations. We call on the leaders of the UVF and UDA to take immediate steps to civilianise their organisations, bringing all paramilitary activity, drug dealing and other anti-social behaviors to an end.

We call upon the Loyalist Communities Council to play their part in facilitating this and in challenging criminality/  We give our full support to the PSNI in rigorously pursuing the organised criminal gangs that operate in East Belfast and we commit and make ourselves available to work with others to disentangle our communities from these coercive influences in order that the community may thrive.

Photo credit: UTV