Loyalist groups UDA and UVF disarming after decades of terror and 1000 deaths

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The Independent Online

Loyalist paramilitaries have begun to decommission their weapons, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

According to senior loyalist sources the UVF has carried out a significant act of decommissioning while the UDA has either made a start to the process or is set to do so imminently.

And it is understood that other loyalist groups were well-advanced in preparation to hand over their weapons. The move – four years after the IRA announced it was giving up its armoury – comes ahead of Secretary of State Shaun Woodward’s August deadline for significant progress on loyalist arms.

A spokeman for Mr Woodward today told the Belfast Telegraph: “The Secretary of State cannot confirm or deny these reports. It is for General de Chastelain to report on these matters. But if these reports are accurate it has demonstrated that the Secretary of State’s policy of firmness with clarity and an understanding of how results could be achieved has worked.”

General John de Chastelain and colleagues from the Independent International Commission on Decommisioning (IICD) arrived in Belfast last week. One source said the General was in contact with loyalists yesterday, but there is no confirmation of this. A spokesman for the IICD was unavailable for comment.

It is understood that loyalist leaders have yet to tell rank-and- file members of the move.

“This has remained within a small exclusive group,” one loyalist told this newspaper.