Northern Ireland

PUP 'keep link with loyalist UVF' despite shooting

Dr John Kyle
Image caption Dr Kyle was speaking after a meeting of the PUP in east Belfast

The Progressive Unionist Party has said it will keep its relationship with loyalist paramilitaries, the Ulster Volunteer Force.

This is despite the Independent Monitoring Commission's report that the UVF sanctioned the murder of loyalist Bobby Moffett.

After the killing, PUP leader Dawn Purvis resigned, saying the party was severely restricted by its UVF link.

But the PUP said it was vital loyalists had a voice in the political process.

At a meeting in east Belfast on Wednesday night, the party's interim leader Dr John Kyle said that after the resignation of Ms Purvis, the party had embarked on a period of reflection and analysis.

He said they had decided to maintain the link between the PUP, the UVF and the Red Hand Commandos.

"We remain committed to giving a voice to working class loyalists throughout Northern Ireland," Dr Kyle said.

He said the party was founded on the core principles of social justice and conflict transformation.

"If our communities are to consolidate the peace process, we cannot ignore our obligation to those who continue to be underrepresented," he said.

The IMC said the shooting of Mr Moffett in May on the Shankill Road could have been prevented by UVF bosses but it was not. In its report earlier this month, the IMC called it "a public execution".

So far, no-one has been charged with Mr Moffett's murder.

While the IMC report blamed the UVF, it did not recommend any sanction.

Instead they expressed the hope that the murder would be a one-off incident.

In June, shortly after the shooting, Ms Purvis resigned.

She said she was leaving because the PUP was "severely restricted because of its relationship with the Ulster Volunteer Force".

"I can no longer offer leadership to a political party which is expected to answer for the indefensible actions of others," she said.

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