Loyalists start weapons decommissioning
Loyalist paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland today confirmed they have started to decommission their weapons.
The decommissioning announcement came from the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Red Hand Commando (RHC) groups.
The decommissioning acts were overseen by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) led by General John de Chastelain who four years ago witnessed the destruction of the IRA's arsenal of guns, ammunition and explosives.
The UVF said it had destroyed its entire arsenal, with a further major disarmament act from the RHC.
The UDA released a statement in Belfast confirming it had decommissioned a portion of its illegal arsenal and had started a process that would lead to the destruction of all its arms.
The UVF leadership today said: "We have done so to further augment the establishment of accountable democratic governance in this region of the UK, to remove the pretext that loyalist weaponry is an obstacle to the development of our communities and to compound our legacy of integrity to the peace process."
The UDA statement said: "This is a courageous and unprecedented move that is part of a wider transition from conflict to peace.
"This process was initiated in autumn 2008 when the Combined Loyalist Military Command was reconvened to address the outstanding issue of Loyalist military material. As a result of those discussions, all constituent parts agreed to set in place the internal arrangements necessary to begin the disarmament process.
"As a result we have held a series of meetings with General John De Chastelain and his team who have witnessed an act of decommissioning. This process will be completed within the previously notified timescale.
"By carrying out this act we are helping to build a new and better Northern Ireland where conflict is a thing of the past."
The statements mark a milestone in the peace process and nationalists and republicans have said they hope the decommissioning acts will mark the end of loyalist paramilitary activity.
The UVF killed 550 people during the Troubles, while the UDA, which also operated under the flag of convenience of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), claimed 431 lives.
The Red Hand Commando, a splinter group allied to the UVF, killed 19 people.
Most of the groups' victims were Catholic civilians.
The UDA statement today said: "In this important moment in our history we wish to pay tribute to the courage and fortitude of our comrades and communities.
"To those who have died, we salute you and forever treasure your memory.
"To those who have lost loved ones, we share your grief.
'To those who have been injured or imprisoned, we thank you for your sacrifice.
"The dark days are now behind us and it is time to move on. There is no place for guns and violence in the new society we are building. It is time to work for a better future."
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
Cheryl Cole officially 'the most dangerous celebrity' on the internet
Ebola virus in the US: What are the symptoms, what is it and is there a cure?
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Benefits 'smart cards' plan revealed by Iain Duncan Smith to stop claimants spending welfare money on alcohol
- < Previous
- Next >
Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is urgently s...
£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel your sales role is l...
£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Trainee Recruitmen...