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‘Conveyor belt’ that took weapons from INLA

By Brian Rowan

Two deadline moves on decommissioning are to be confirmed today — with just 24 hours to go before General de Chastelain and his team end their peace role in Northern Ireland.

The moves involve the INLA and an ‘Official’ republican splinter group.

Background efforts were continuing last week to push the breakaway UDA brigade in south-east Antrim over the decommissioning finish line.

It has made a start to the process but still holds weapons.

A number of statements will be made today with confirmation expected from the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD).

This is the de Chastelain team that has been in place since 1997.

According to one source INLA arms were delivered “conveyor belt” style — INLA to the IICD via witnesses. The Belfast Telegraph understands three witnesses/facilitators were involved, including Brendan Mackin, director of the Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre.

A news conference is being held there this morning at which a “significant statement” by the INLA will be read.

According to a source one of the witnesses is from outside Ireland.

The decommissioning has been described as “substantial”, including rifles, handguns and explosives.

One source said: “The weapons ended up with de Chastelain but the INLA didn’t give them to him.”

The source said “the rationale” for the arms move would be explained in today’s statement.

The role of the IICD ends in Northern Ireland tomorrow.

That is when the mandate, which allows it to operate here, comes to an end.

Its major work has included the IRA decommissioning in 2005 and the destruction of loyalist arms belonging to the UVF, Red Hand Commando and UDA in recent months.

The move by the INLA comes four months after it declared its armed struggle over. There have been many fractures and feuds within the organisation and the weapons and explosives decommissioned will be those under the control of the mainstream group.

In a violent history stretching across several decades, it was behind scores of killings.

Confirmation today of its decommissioning brings to an end another of Northern Ireland’s wars. Later this month, final reports by the IICD will be made to the British and Irish governments.

Belfast Telegraph

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