The following statement was issued by the Connolly Association on 18 June 2009 in response to decommissioning moves by loyalist paramilitaries. We reproduce it here for information:
The Connolly Association, the oldest campaigning organisation of the Irish and Britain and their British friends, today welcomed the news that the major loyalist paramilitary groups have either fully decommissioned their weaponry or made major steps towards completing the process.
Noting that separate announcements by the UVF/Red Hand Commando and the UDA/UFF came within days of a further extension by the British government of a final decommissioning deadline - to allow loyalists to surrender all of their weaponry - the Association's acting joint general secretaries, David Granville and Tony Donaghey said:
"The Connolly Association welcomes this long-overdue move which is an important contribution to ending the conflict in the six counties and will assist the reconciliation process ushered in by the signing of the Good Friday and St Andrews agreements.
"That not all the UDA/UFF's weaponry has been put beyond use and that there are still a number of tiny paramilitary groups, loyalist and republican, which are prepared to hold and and use the arms in their possession, remains a concern.
"Although this is another step along the path towards community reconciliation, we cannot, and must not, forget the role played by the British state, whose military and intelligence services armed loyalist paramilitary groups in the first instance.
"Collusion between British forces and paramilitaries on both sides of the conflict remains a stain on what we think of as British democracy. The time is now right for our government to come clean on this aspect of its 'dirty war' against Irish republicans. Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible for around 1,000 deaths throughout the conflict, with the overwhelming majority targeted for no other reason other than they were from the nationalist community.
"We therefore have no hesitation in echoing the sentiments expressed by groups such as Relatives for Justice, which have made it clear that truth, recognition and acknowledgement of Britain's role in colluding with paramilitaries remains vital to any reconciliation process and is especially important for the families of all those affected by this aspect of the conflict.
David Granville and Tony Donaghey are acting joint general secretaries of the Connolly Association
Connolly Publications Ltd, 244 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8JR
Copyright © 2009 Connolly Publications Ltd