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UDA's 'top man' cannot give weapons vow

Published 31/08/2009

The UDA’s top man in the north west has told the organisation’s Inner Council that he can’t deliver on decommissioning weapons.

Sources in the Londonderry/North Antrim UDA brigade say that Billy McFarland — who is known as the Mexican — travelled to Belfast a fortnight ago and confirmed to fellow UDA brigadiers that he couldn’t deliver.

He’s understood to have told Jackie McDonald and other UDA leaders that the rank and file in his brigade were firmly opposed to decommissioning their arsenal of weapons.

Earlier this month the breakaway South East Antrim UDA Brigade confirmed to Sunday Life that it had decommissioned explosives and guns to General John de Chastelain in June.

But the UDA in Co Antrim and Derry is resolutely opposed to decommissioning weapons. Sources in the Brigade say. “It wasn’t a case of Billy going to Belfast and thumping the table or laying down a marker or anything like that.

“He just told Jackie and the others present that he couldn’t deliver the weapons because they didn’t belong to him and the men under him weren’t prepared to give the stuff up,” one source said.

With General de Chastelain scheduled to visit Belfast this week to present a report on UDA and UVF decommissioning, concerns remain that the UDA leadership cannot deliver completely on the weapons issue.

Reports circulating in Belfast suggest that Jackie McDonald’s own South Belfast Brigade has refused to hand over all the weapons under its control.

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