January 7, 2010

UDA surrenders its weapons

by David Masters

The Ulster Defence Association (UDA), a Northern Irish protestant paramilitary group, has decommissioned all its illegal weapons.

The surrendering of weapons was witnessed by John de Chastelain, a retired Canadian general who heads the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD).

De Chastelain said the decision to give up arms was “a major act” by the UDA, a group responsible for 400 murders in Northern Ireland between 1971 and 2001.

Two independent witnesses, including retired Church of Ireland primate Lord Eames and former top civil servant Sir George Quigley, verified the decommissioning.

The symbolic act was announced by the UDA’s political representatives, the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG).

“The Ulster Defence Association was formed to defend our communities; we state quite clearly and categorically that this responsibility now rests with the Government and its institutions where legitimacy resides,” a UPRG spokesperson said.

“The opportunity now presents itself for all political parties to create an era where all our communities can benefit from stability, investment and growth within this region of the United Kingdom and enjoy the benefits of freedom and diversity.

“We have fulfilled our obligations, our commitment remains intact and we trust the future for all the people of these islands will be one of equality, harmony and fulfilment and those future generations will achieve their aspirations and dreams in an environment of peace and prosperity.”

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