Loyalist violence 'shook confidence in North' - Hain
The British Secretary of State for the North Mr Peter Hain warned today that recent loyalist violence had wasted public money and had "shaken an international confidence" that was viewing the North with increasing optimism.
Mr Hain made his comments as optimism grew of an expected IRA statement on the disposal of its weaponry.Play the political role you claim as your motivation or face the rigour of the law as the mafia organisations into which you seem to have degenerated
The British Secretary of State warned loyalist paramilitaries today that they will not be allowed to terrorise their own communities.
Announcing a series of measures designed to address the sense of alienation loyalists claim they have in their communities, Peter Hain today that recent loyalist violence had wasted public money and had "shaken an international confidence" that was viewing the North with increasing optimism.
Mr Hain said he would embark on a process of intensive engagement with elected representatives and civil leaders from the Protestant community.
However, he also warned the loyalist paramilitaries to engage in political dialogue or face the rigour of the law.
"Play the political role you claim as your motivation or face the rigour of the law as the mafia organisations into which you seem to have degenerated," he said.
Mr Hain's comments came ahead of a meeting in Stormont tonight with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern as optimism continues to grow of an imminent announcement on IRA decommissioning.
Sinn Féin's Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy further hinted at imminent developments on the republican side. "It is crucial that in the coming days and weeks, the tremendous potential created by the IRA announcement of July 28 should be immediately built upon to create real momentum in the peace process," he said.
"The issue of the IRA was held up by unionists as the only stumbling block to political progress. It is now clear that political unionism cannot cope with the new realities presented."
Additional reporting: Agencies