David Ford stated: “What is clear from recent pronouncements is that a UVF stand down may occur only in the event of a satisfactory political deal for Unionists. If a Nationalist organization were making such threats, Unionists would rightly be outraged. So it is time for those Unionists linked to the UVF clarify why such threats are now deemed reasonable.
“The simple fact is the UVF has never had any purpose, and must be stood down immediately. Yet all we are seeing are ridiculous claims about the past and pronouncements about standing down only with the major caveat that Unionism must gain from any future deal.
“How, therefore, can the rest of us trust that the Assembly party group containing the UVF’s political representative is committed to democratic means?
“The stand down of paramilitary organizations from all sides is not up for negotiation. It must happen immediately. Giving them political lifeblood and providing the impression that they have political weight is no way to achieve this. It is time for the UUP to make clear where it stands.”