N Ireland loyalists disarm

Members of the Ulster Political Research Group, a political wing of the Ulster Defence Association, from left, Colin Haliday, John Howcroft, William McQuiston, Frankie Gallagher and Dave Malcolm after a press conference in Belfast yesterday. (AFP)

Northern Ireland's largest loyalist paramilitary group announced yesterday that it had completely disarmed, a milestone in the troubled province's peace process.

The political wing of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), blamed for about 400 murders in its campaign to maintain British rule during three decades of civil strife, said it had put the remainder of its arsenal beyond use.

"Today the leadership of the UDA can confirm that all weaponry under its control has been put verifiably beyond use," said Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) leader Frankie Gallagher at a press conference in Belfast.

The move, a month before a long-running amnesty on giving up arms ends, was facilitated by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) under the leadership of Canadian General John De Chastelain.

It was verified by two independent witnesses, the former Church of Ireland primate, Lord Robin Eames, and former top civil servant George Quigley.

 

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