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'Remembrance Day Statement' by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), (11 November 2007)
Text: Ulster Defence Association (UDA) ... Page Compiled Martin Melaugh
Ulster Defence Association
Remembrance Day Statement
11 November 2007
The Ulster Defence Association believes that the war is over and we are now in a new democratic dispensation that will lead to permanent political stability but we believe the political parties and the political institutions are themselves still in a period of transition. In that context the organisation intends to continue through a process of transformation that will ultimately achieve a Northern Ireland based on equality, justice and exclusivity [sic] where no sections of our people are left behind regardless of religion, politic [sic] or identity.
We believe that to secure our British identity and maintain the Union we must play a positive role in achieving political stability here in Northern Ireland. This means developing the skills and increasing confidence of our community so they can play an active role in building and shaping that future but be able to defend ourselves through none [sic] violent means when our rights are taken from us or if our identity is being eroded and our place within the United Kingdom is threatened.
The ballot box and the political institutions must be the greatest weapons.
At present up to 60% of our community do not vote or do not register to vote and languish in the top 10% of the most socially and economically deprived communities in the country. This leaves our people isolated, marginalised and open to exploitation and not able to defend ourselves from politicians who would seek to improve their political carriers [sic] and criminals in particular drug dealers.
If we are to create a society where citizens feel they should not be defended by paramilitaries then we must have political structures that protect all the citizens and where politicians can not jump in and out of those political structures when it suits them to further their own political aims. The people must have confidence in the political structures and feel they will be defended if wronged. That feeling does not exist in our community.
We feel that some Irish nationalist politicians along with others are intent on excluding our people from the new-shared future that is the over arching [sic] principle for the new Assembly. They are working at every turn to erode our British identity and undermining the Union. What we do recognise is that we must face these challenges within the law and through non-violent means. What compounds this situation is that we feel the majority of Unionist politicians are unable to defend our rights at present but recognise that politics in the new assembly are very much in transition.
Under these difficult conditions the organisation has agreed a number of actions it can implement over a period of time in the belief that they will bring about positive change, add to a greater political stability and if our communities are given the right support so they can become equals in the new political dispensation and shared future, achieve a lasting and sustainable peace.
These series of actions cannot achieve peace, justice and equality on there [sic] own, they require recognition that Loyalism needs a process and that process requires support. The length and duration of achieving these actions depend on that recognition and support. The Ulster Defence Association is committed to achieving a society where violence and weaponry are ghosts of the past.
It is our intention as a result of the ongoing consultations with our members to go back to our roots and direct all our energies into developing our communities. The Ulster Defence Association will remain the parent organisation but will establish an umbrella organisation titled the Ulster Defence Union to facilitate the retirement of members and the needs that will affect them.
In this spirit we the members of the Ulster Defence Association 2007 reaffirm our commitment to maintaining the Union now as our fore fathers [sic] did during the political instability of the home rule crisis and resisted the passing of the first home rule bill where on the 17 March 1893 the then Unionist leaders saw fit to call on all Loyalists of Ulster to form a new organisation titled the Ulster Defence Association; who would then select an assembly of 600 delegates and having then convened nominated an executive council of 40. This executive would then form an Umbrella organisation titled the Ulster Defence Union where all sections of unionism could come together regardless of their social class to stand united against any proposals for an all Ireland parliament.
Our members have from 1893 went [sic] forward and paid the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives in the defence and freedom of small nations on Flanders fields at the Somme during the First World War, in Burma, Africa, Europe and the Middle East during WWII. We continue that struggle for freedom of small nations in the present theatres of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Acknowledging that the military war is over and the struggle to maintain the Union is on a new and more complex battlefield. In consideration of this new reality, all active service units of the Ulster Freedom Fighters will as from 12pm tonight stand down with all military intelligence destroyed and as a consequence of this all weaponry will be put beyond use.
It must be recognised with honour that it was through the sacrifice of these brave men who where [sic] the cutting edge that took the war to the enemy and why we enjoy a relative peace and stability and an opportunity to build a new future. It was these Freedom Fighters who brought the enemy to the peace table and established the first ceasefires in 1994. Many of these men served long prison sentences and many lost their lives. We must also acknowledge the sacrifice of their families, wives and children who also suffered through no fault of their own.
The battle flags of the Ulster Freedom Fighters will be furled in a hope that they may never have to see light of day again but stand in readiness. We will not forget what they did or why they did it, nor will we forget who called them to arms in the defence of Ulster.
All Ulster Young Militants will be redirected towards education, personal development and community development.
It is acknowledged that the youth stood ready to face the enemy when called and feel that they have lost out on their opportunity but through education they will learn that there are many ways to do battle and that it can be done without firing a shot. They are our countries [sic] future, we will be in their hands soon enough.
A general order to all members not to be involved in crime or criminality.
It is the duty of every member to understand that to be involved in crime of criminality is to to undermine the cause. We have had those who joined our ranks for political reasons; these men went on to give great sacrifice and brought honour to the organisation and gained the respect of their comrades. But there have been those who joined our ranks for crime and self gain. These people must be rooted out and never be allowed to breath [sic] in our ranks.
These people have been involved in drug dealing and this must be stamped out. Drugs destroy our children and our children are our future. These people are not Loyalists they are criminals. There is no place in the organisation for such people.
Our Loyal members in SEA [South-East Antrim] continue to face up to their responsibility to defend the community against criminals and criminality.
The organisation pledges support to those loyal members, who, despite threats, intimidation and attack from a small criminal gang, stay committed to the direction and policies of the organisation.
It was this criminal gang who carried out the resent [sic] act of decommissioning, the gimmick was an attempt to try and undermine all of Loyalism.
We encourage all our genuine members in SEA to take courage from those who have stood up to these criminals at personal risk and call on them to join these brave men.
The Ulster Defence Association is committed to supporting the building of communities and encourages all our members to participate at all levels of regeneration and social development.
Our people and our country will face many challenges in the future, we must stand ready to do battle but we must be on the right battlefield and we must train in the skills that will enable us not just to defend our community but also to improve our community.
We must be able to face the challenge to create a better future for our children.
The majority of our community do not participate; the majority of our community do not have a voice.
We must develop ways of getting a voice so we can speak for ourselves with one voice; we are a sleeping giant.
Above all we must stick together and let no one separate us.