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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 September 2006, 08:10 GMT 09:10 UK
Empey heralds possible UVF move
Sir Reg Empey
Sir Reg is to consider his options
Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey has welcomed indications the Ulster Volunteer Force may re-engage with the body overseeing decommissioning.

The move is part of the UVF's internal consultation over its future.

Ulster Unionist assembly members are to discuss their link with Progressive Unionist leader David Ervine next week.

Sir Reg said he would take account of what the Independent Monitoring Commission will say about UVF activity when considering his options.

"I'm not prepared to live a lie that there is progress, when there's not progress," he told BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Politics programme.

"I want to see progress. We're pushing, we're trying to send a message out to people that we are concerned about them and their communities ad we want to help and provide representation.

"But it has to involve the transformation taking place to exclusively peaceful means."

The UVF has been under pressure recently to begin decommissioning and end all activities.

Among those calling for the moves have been the Ulster Unionist Party, which has entered into an alliance with the PUP in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Beyond use

However, the BBC has learned that the UVF is now considering re-engaging with General John de Chastelain's arms commission as part of an internal consultation over its future.

In January 2003, the paramilitary group suspended all contacts with the decommissioning body.

It is understood it is now considering appointing a representative to speak to the commission.

If it does re-engage with the arms body, it is unlikely to lead to immediate decommissioning but will begin a process.

The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning Commission was established in 1997 under chairman General John de Chastelain, of the Canadian army.

In September 2005, General de Chastelain said the IRA had put all of its weapons beyond use.

UUP 'to clarify' links with PUP
15 Aug 06 |  Northern Ireland
UVF pulls out of weapons talks
17 Jan 03 |  Northern Ireland

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