Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Tuesday, 29 July 2008 18:10 UK

Government has UDA weapons talks


The government met with the UDA leadership

The government has held secret talks with the UDA leadership about the decommissioning of its weapons.

Security Minister Paul Goggins and Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde met members of the organisation's ruling "inner council" on Monday night.

The NIO has confirmed Mr Goggins had private talks with the political representatives of the UDA and what it called "other leading loyalists".

The BBC understands they included the majority of the UDA's inner council

The UDA has said for years that decommissioning was "not even on its radar screen".

However, the UDA leadership now says the issue is being discussed, but the vast majority of its members and supporters are opposed to giving up its weapons.

The government says that is just an excuse.

It wants the organisation to begin the process of decommissioning within six months and if it does not, the international decommissioning body could cease to exist.

At that point there would no longer be a weapons amnesty and any weapons found will be forensically tested and the evidence used in future court cases.

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