Page last updated at 19:08 GMT, Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Decommissioning deadline extended

by Vincent Kearney
BBC NI home affairs correspondent

UDA gunman
Loyalist paramilitaries are to be given another year to decommission

After months of warning it was running out of patience, the government is to give loyalist paramilitaries another year to decommission their weapons.

In a speech in May, Shaun Woodward issued a warning to the UDA and UVF that the structures governing decommissioning were "time limited".

The legislation that enables the international decommissioning body to operate was to be renewed in February.

Government sources had suggested it was unlikely to be extended.

However, on Wednesday the government laid papers in the House of Commons to begin the process of renewing the legislation that allows the decommissioning body to operate for another year.

It has been 14 years since loyalist paramilitary groups declared their ceasefires.

Mr Woodward insisted this will be the last chance to deal with the issue of guns.

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