The first details of last week’s historic acts of decommissioning by loyalist paramilitaries can today be revealed.
As more of the details of the disarmament moves emerge it is now known that the loyalist groups gathered up their weapons and delivered them to General John de Chastelain.
According to paramilitary and security sources the arms were brought to a single designated point.
“That is what happened,” one loyalist source commented, adding it was “very well organised”.
It means the General and his team did not visit the many arms dumps scattered throughout the loyalist community.
In the sequence of events the UVF and Red Hand Commando moved together, followed days later by the UDA.
A source has also confirmed that the UDA met First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson in the build up to its first decommissioning move early last week.
“He (the First Minister) definitely met them – met the leadership,” the source said.
A DUP spokesman said: “Over the last nine months Peter Robinson and other DUP representatives have been engaging the loyalist leaderships encouraging them to leave their paramilitarism behind and embrace the democratic process.”
But it is still not clear when the historic decommissioning acts will be publicly announced and confirmed.
According to loyalists the General and other commissioners on the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning are not due back in Northern Ireland until next month.
“I can’t see him (de Chastelain) saying anything this side of him coming back,” a loyalist commented.
Before he speaks, the different loyalist groups will have to brief their members on the scale of decommissioning — on that process in which their weapons were delivered to the IICD for destruction.
Those briefings have not yet happened and there are no immediate plans for them to take place.
The paramilitary leaderships are not yet ready to share the fine detail of decommissioning. They had not expected the news to leak last week.
There is also the question of what more the UDA plans to do, and when. While the UVF and Red Hand Commando believe they have completed the decommissioning process, the UDA has made what is being described as a start.
“This is a measured and managed process,” a source close to that organisation told this newspaper. He earlier said the UDA had made it clear to both the government and IICD that it did not plan to decommission its entire arsenal in one act.
At the weekend this newspaper revealed that all of the so-called brigades under the inner council leadership had put weapons beyond use.
So, there is still no confirmation from the IICD or the paramilitary leaderships on the extent of decommissioning — and sources are now suggesting that will not happen before General de Chastelain returns here next month.