Arms body done with UVF, holds talks with UDA
Arms body done with UVF, holds talks with UDA

The IICD arms body under General John de Chastelain has said in a statement that it believes that the arms decommissioned in June by the unionist paramilitary UVF is all that remained under the control of that organisation’s leadership, and that UVF decommissioning has ended.

In a single page statement on loyalist arms this week, the body tasked with the goal of decommissioning weapons held by the Provisional IRA and loyalist paramilitaries in Ireland said however that it had been told by the UVF that significant quantities of its weapons had been “lost” over the years.

But following the June event, the body said that it had now “completed the decommissioning of UVF arms” and had turned its attention to the UDA.

Following a meeting last week with the five ‘brigades’ of the mainstream UDA -- including the Derry/north Antrim gang, said recently to have broken with the others -- the IICD said it had secured a verbal agreement that it would also conclude the decommissioning process within five months. Some weapons had already been decommissioned in June, it added.

It also reported from the leaders of the UDA’s south-east Antrim faction, and reported that it was also “committed” to decommission within the next six months.

The IICD is expected to disband by February, when special legislation elapses and it will again become illegal for the UDA and UVF to transport arms for any purpose.

Significant amounts of British government grant aid for both paramilitary organisations could also be jeopardised if the decommissioning process is not concluded in time.

The statement did little to assuage republican secepticism on loyalist arms.

However, Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey welcomed the move and said the issue of loyalist arms should have been dealt with long ago.

British Direct Ruler Shaun Woodward claimed the report was “hugely significant” and made it clear that the process would wind up shortly.

“Northern Ireland has been transformed over the past decade and the work of Gen John de Chastelain and the IICD has helped society to move away from conflict and towards peace,” he said.

“The end is in sight for the decommissioning process. So much has been achieved by the IICD since it was established, and I would urge all groups to continue to work with the commission and put their arms beyond use before the scheme comes to an end in February.”

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