The two main pro-British paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland have claimed they have decommissioned or have begun putting their weapons out of use.
The UDA says it sees no point in continuing the armed struggle and has begun decommissioning, while the UVF says all its weapons have now been put out of action under the supervision of General John de Chastelaine. Between them the two groups killed around a thousand, mostly Catholic, people. “This is a truly momentous day in the history of progressive loyalism. The decommissioning of all weapons by the Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commando shows that peaceful, stable and inclusive democracy is the way forward for our country,” says Progressive Unionist party leader Dawn Purvis. In 2005 their enemy, the pro-Catholic IRA completed its disarmament process and there has been pressure on the loyalist groups to do the same ever since. The whole disarmament process was put on hold in March this year when a soldier and two policemen were killed in an attack on the Massereene barracks claimed by a splinter group of the IRA. This latest act of decommissioning is being hailed as historic and comes ahead of an August deadline for real progress to be made on disarmament on the loyalist side.