Ahern to meet Progressive Unionists

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will today meet the loyalist Progressive Unionist Party after the North’s ceasefire watchdog publishes its latest report.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will today meet the loyalist Progressive Unionist Party after the North’s ceasefire watchdog publishes its latest report.

The PUP's Dawn Purvis will travel to Dublin to meet Mr Ahern as efforts continue to get the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Red Hand Commando to wind down as paramilitary organisations.

The UVF and the Red Hand Commando are linked to the Progressive Unionists.

As she prepared to meet Mr Ahern, Ms Purvis said she was looking for assurance that the Irish Government was totally committed to the new era of power sharing at Stormont and good relations on both sides of the border.

The East Belfast Assembly member said: “I will be seeking from the Taoiseach his commitment to Plan A and assurances that the Irish Government have no plans to achieve any form of joint authority and that their intention is to see if internal agreement as the settled will of the people.

“Within the new Northern Ireland we are building it is vital that nothing is allowed to destabilise this process.

“Therefore it is also of importance to the unionist community to be reassured that the Irish Government have a concentrated strategic plan to tackle dissident republican activity south of the border.

“The Irish Government and the Taoiseach, in particular, have played an important and engaging role in the peace process in Northern Ireland and I am confident that they will continue to play this positive role.

“I and the PUP will continue to engage with the Irish Government in areas of mutual interest.”

The meeting will take place just hours after the four-member Independent Monitoring Commission publishes its 15th report.

There will be considerable interest in what the commission has to say about not just the UVF and Red Hand Commando but also the Ulster Defence Association which has also embarked on a British government funded £1.2m (€1.76m) plan to wean loyalist communities away from paramilitarism into socio-economic regeneration.

The report will also focus on the activities of dissident republican groups like the Continuity IRA, the Real IRA and Oglaigh na hÉireann.

The report is also expected to confirm that the Provisional IRA remains firmly committed to pursuing its goals politically and has not engaged in acts of terrorism such as attacks on the security forces, targeting, weapons gathering or involvement in sectarian activity.

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