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3 October 2002 Edition

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UVF men jailed in Scotland

By Fern Lane

The validity of the UVF ceasefire, already under intense scrutiny because of that group's involvement in sectarian attacks, has been further called into question after two men were jailed for 11 years each by the High Court in Glasgow last week after attempting to ship explosives into the Six Counties.

Prosecutors said that a network of support cells for the UVF is active in Scotland, organised into "area units".

Murdo McLeod, prosecuting, said that, "Intelligence suggests that the UVF in the west of Scotland has access to firearms and munitions and continues to procure additional weaponry and munitions as it becomes available".

Donald Reid, aged 28 from Kilsyth and Robert Baird, 46, from Kirkintilloch admitted conspiring to assist the UVF by transporting explosives on the Troon to Belfast ferry. The court heard that Reid's car was stopped on 4 May by police, who found five kilos of explosives hidden in it; sufficient to detonate ten car bombs.

Also found hidden inside one of the doors were a number of detonators and fuses and a search of Baird's house uncovered a cache of 5.56mm bullets. Both men were also in possession of UVF paraphernalia, including framed photographs of UVF men, although both denied being members of the group.

Two other men, Brian Cairney, 41, from Kirkintilloch, and Alan Salmon, 30, from Glasgow, were acquitted of the charges after the judge accepted not guilty pleas.

The guilty verdicts on Reid and Baird will have come as a huge embarrassment for PUP leader David Ervine, who attempted to explain away the incident by claiming it was merely a response to allegations about republican activities in Florida and Colombia. He also claimed that the attempt to ship explosives was no more than an "opportune situation" and that the UVF are still on ceasefire.

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