Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

UDA promise decommissioning by February

The UDA has promised General de Chastelain it will complete the decommissioning process before the final deadline of February next year — a senior paramilitary source told the Belfast Telegraph.

A progress report on loyalist decommissioning given to the British and Irish governments last week is to be published tomorrow.

It will detail the events in June when loyalist groups eventually moved to put arms beyond use.

The leaderships of two of those organisations — UVF and Red Hand Commando — claim all weapons under their control have been decommissioned, but the UDA made only a start to the process.

Senior leaders of that organisation met the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) in Belfast last Monday — with the so-called brigadier in north Antrim/Londonderry Billy McFarland meeting the de Chastelain team twice.

Asked if the process would be completed before the final deadline of next February, a senior UDA figure told this newspaper: “That was the promise that was made (to the IICD).

“Unless something disastrous happens, that’s where it’s going.”

Asked how quickly the UDA might move, the source responded: “I would hope the sooner the better.

“The longer it goes on the greater the chance something would happen.

“A lot of them (UDA leaders) would do it as soon as possible.

“What’s anybody going to do with them (the guns) anyway?” the source asked.

Not all UDA weapons are under the control of the current inner council leadership, after a series of internal feuds.

There has also been a question about the commitment of Billy McFarland to the decommissioning process.

The latest IICD report will give an assessment of significant progress on decommissioning not just by the three main paramilitary organisations but also the breakaway UDA faction in southeast Antrim.

If progress was not achieved, the Secretary of State Shaun Woodward had warned he would end the decommissioning process.

Recently he told this newspaper that next February is the final deadline with absolutely no room for manoeuvre on that date.

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