Page last updated at 17:22 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 18:22 UK

UDA seek cash in return for guns

Vincent Kearney
BBC Northern Ireland home affairs correspondent

UDA mural
The UDA amended their arms decommissioning offer

The UDA is believed to have asked the government for millions of pounds and prisoner releases in return for the full decommissioning of their weapons.

The paramilitary group wants the cash to be used for funding of projects in loyalist areas.

When the government said no, the UDA agreed to put a only small number of weapons beyond use earlier this week.

However, it is believed the Ulster Volunteer Force may have decommissioned all of its guns.

General John de Chastelain, the head of the international decommissioning body, is expected to make a statement within days confirming that loyalist decommissioning has taken place.

The UDA has started the process of decommissioning its guns - but still has a long way to go.

The other main loyalist group, the UVF, is known to have engaged in what is described as "a comprehensive and hugely significant act" - which means the organisation may have destroyed all of its weapons.

A smaller loyalist group, the Red Hand Commando, is also believed to have put most of its weapons beyond use.

It is understood that the UDA wanted something in return for its guns and asked for several million pounds for community projects in loyalists areas as well as the early release of UDA prisoners convicted after the loyalist ceasefires.

The government, however, refused, so the organisation scaled down its plans for decommissioning.

While the government has not got all that it hoped for, it is nevertheless delighted with the progress that has been made and hopes there will be more.

Official confirmation that decommissioning has taken place is expected to come from General John de Chastelain next week.



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