The Director of the Church of Ireland Hard Gospel Project, the Revd Earl Storey, has welcomed a statement from the UVF that it proposes to stand down.
He described it as an important step on a journey for this organisation, but said the organisation’s stance on weapons was not satisfactory.
“In a community underpinned by the rule of law their stance on weapons is simply not good enough,” Rev Storey said.
"‘Putting weapons beyond use' is an ambiguous phrase at best. It is also unlawful in a democratic country. It is all the more disturbing when there is an implicit threat that dissident republican activity might cause a return to arms. Such a threat is completely unacceptable in Northern Ireland, and needs to be withdrawn.”
The Project Director went on: “The call to comply with the rule of law is to be welcomed and will help in the change of atmosphere in our community. Recent reports suggest that criminal activity such as extortion and protection rackets are continuing. Complying with the law must mean no less than evidence that such activity has ceased.
“It will also be important that the UVF clarifies its position with regard to those who have been threatened or exiled in the past. Abiding by the rule of law in this regard will be all the more important given the fatal consequences for 'exiles' who have returned home in the past.”