PSNI chief pressures PUP to disband UVF

PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde today quizzed the Progressive Unionist Party leader Dawn Purvis about the UVF's plans to wind down as a paramilitary organisation.

PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde today quizzed the Progressive Unionist Party leader Dawn Purvis about the UVF's plans to wind down as a paramilitary organisation.

Speaking after hour-long talks with the police chief at Police Service headquarters in Belfast she said: "Obviously he raised the issue of the UVF. There was some chat about the speculation that there has been and we gave him our best assessment as to where we are with that."

"As the eighth of May draws closer we are getting ever closer."

But Purvis said she could not say whether a UVF announcement would come before or after the return of devolution on this date.

Earlier this week, the Independent Monitoring Commission said in its latest report on paramilitary groups that UVF members were still involved in crime, but were not engaged in terrorist activity and had tried to address the problem of racial crime.

The PUP leader and East Belfast MLA said she had sought details from Orde about the threat and capabilities of dissident republicans.

"It is important that our new Assembly is given the best possible start and that nothing is allowed to destabilise that," she said.

"The Chief Constable gave his assurance that, as they have been doing, they will continue to deal with dissident republicans."

Ms Purvis said she also impressed on the Chief Constable the importance of implementing the PSNI's 'Policing with the Community' strategy.

"It is important that is implemented as soon as possible to ensure relationships are built as fast as possible to deal with crime effectively," she said.

Meanwhile, Ms Purvis continued her round of discussions with other political parties with talks with a DUP delegation led by deputy leader Peter Robinson.

She said she had impressed upon the DUP the importance of loyalism's continued engagement in the political process.

"As we draw closer to May eighth and the reintroduction of accountable democracy, it is important that we all live up to our responsibilities to ensure that no section of our community is left behind or outside of that process."

At the same time, she said, she had reiterated to the DUP the specific problems facing the loyalist working class in relation to educational under-attainment, poor health care provision and inadequate social housing.

"With the long overdue return of devolved government, all Assembly parties and especially those with ministerial positions will be required to deliver for the people on the ground," she said.

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