UVF has dumped all guns
The UVF and associated Red Hand Commando have decommissioned all weapons under their control, senior loyalists have told the Belfast Telegraph.
Paramilitary sources expect confirmation of this to come in the much-anticipated de Chastelain arms report – to be delivered no later than August.
If the predictions are correct it means the Command Staff leadership sanctioned hugely significant acts of decommissioning in recent days – acts that have emptied their bunkers.
“It’s finished,” a source told this newspaper – meaning that the UVF and Red Hand organisations believe they have now completed the process.
“In one go, finished,” another source commented.
The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning works on security estimates of the paramilitary arsenals.
The number of weapons made permanently unusable or permanently inaccessible has to match that calculation.
It is believed that General de Chastelain and the IICD will make some public comment before their planned August report, possibly within days.
The different loyalist groups have also prepared statements.
There is still no confirmation of when the commissioners left Ireland – and there is a suggestion that they were here to supervise the first act of UDA decommissioning on Tuesday of this week.
That act, in the words of one source, is “completely different” in scale – smaller and does not compare with the decommissioning of the other loyalist organisations.
But it means that the UDA — an association comprising a number of paramilitary brigades — has entered the process of putting weapons beyond use.
A week ago a loyalist source was quoted in this newspaper saying: “They’ve all agreed that they are doing it, and all their hands are on it.
“I have no doubt that they have all agreed what’s happening — there’s no doubt about that.”
He was talking about all three mainstream loyalist organisations and a commitment to decommissioning before the August deadline set by Secretary of State Shaun Woodward.
Within a week those loyalist organisations have moved — some more convincingly than others.
There is a suggestion that the UDA may choose to speak today.
Up to this point there has been no public comment from its Inner Council leadership or the politically aligned Ulster Political Research Group.
The working with General de Chastelain and his team was ordered from the very top of the paramilitary organisations.
And the detail of what happened has still to be shared with the rank and file of the different groups.
After years of stalling, it seems two of those groups have, within the space of a few days, moved their arsenals from beyond reach to beyond use.