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McGuinness: UDA will not get money for decommissioning 
28th-Jun-2009 06:23 pm
Breaking News.ie

The Ulster Defence Association will not receive public money in exchange for destroying weapons, the North’s deputy First Minister said today.

Martin McGuinness ruled out any payments after the loyalist paramilitary group said it had begun the decommissioning process.

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Red Hand Commando (RHC) added it had put all its arms beyond use and wanted to fully engage in the democratic process.

Mr McGuinness said: “Money going into any area is on the basis of objective need and there are no other considerations.”

Sinn Féin has welcomed progress on loyalist decommissioning.

A statement from the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) on the UVF/RHC disarmament process is expected in the next few days.

It said the UDA’s was a “significant” move and looked forward to completing the process.

The main loyalist paramilitary groups were responsible for almost 1,000 deaths during the 30-year conflict.

There has been a broad welcome for yesterday’s announcements, which followed months of negotiations.

The UDA was formed in loyalist working-class areas in 1971 and is the largest paramilitary group in the North, once boasting tens of thousands of members.

It said yesterday: “This is a courageous and unprecedented move that is part of a wider transition from conflict to peace.

It added: “By carrying out this act we are helping to build a new and better Northern Ireland where conflict is a thing of the past.”

The UVF said the decommissioning process began last autumn but was suspended after dissident republicans killed two soldiers and a policeman in Antrim and Craigavon, Co Armagh, in March.

Former UVF prisoner Billy Hutchinson helped negotiate with the IICD led by General John de Chastelain who four years ago witnessed destruction of the IRA’s arsenal of guns, ammunition and explosives.
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