Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Saturday, 27 June 2009 15:06 UK

NI decommissioning timetable

Three loyalist paramilitary groups have confirmed that they have decommissioned weapons. BBC News takes a look back at significant arms moves in Northern Ireland.

UVF mural in North Belfast
The UVF says all its arms are beyond use

August 1994: IRA announces ceasefire.

October 1994: Combined Loyalist Military Command announces ceasefire.

January 1996: Former US Senator George Mitchell publishes a report calling for the removal of weapons from all loyalist and republican groups.

February 1996: IRA ceasefire ends with a bomb in London's Docklands.

April 1998: The Good Friday Agreement is signed, which looks forward to the decommissioning of all paramilitary weapons.

December 1998: Loyalist Volunteer Force becomes the first group to decommission, however, it is a small quantity of arms.

May 2000: The IRA says it is ready to begin a process that would "completely and verifiably" put its arms beyond use. The statement follows a proposal to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly, linked to a firm commitment to decommissioning.

June 2000: The two international arms inspectors report that they have been secretly taken to IRA arms dumps, inspected them and concluded that the arms cannot be used without their detection.

October 2001: The IRA said it had put some weapons "beyond use" in what was widely seen as an historic breakthrough for the Northern Ireland peace process. It was verified by the body overseeing decommissioning.

April 2002: A second IRA arms move. The IRA puts more of its arsenal out of action in a move described as "substantial" by the arms body.

Meanwhile, David Trimble holds talks with the Loyalist Commission - which included members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, Red Hand Commando and the Ulster Defence Association. The commission was set up to give political analysis to the paramilitary groups.

October 2003: Third act of IRA decommissioning. The decommissioning body confirms the IRA has disposed of the largest consignment of weapons so far. It is hoped that the move will kick-start the political process collapse.

December 2004: The IRA says it will never meet DUP demands for photographic proof of decommissioning.

July 2005: The IRA formally orders an end to its armed campaign and says it will pursue exclusively peaceful means. It says it will follow a democratic path, ending more than 30 years of violence.

September 2005: Arms decommissioning body head General John de Chastelain says the IRA has put all of its weapons beyond use. It was witnessed by two clergymen.

January 2007 - Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine dies suddenly - leaving loyalist paramilitaries without a moderating voice.

October 2007: Northern Ireland Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie cuts funding for the loyalist-linked Conflict Transformation Initiative. It comes after the UDA failed to meet her 60-day ultimatum to begin decommissioning its weapons following loyalist violence. The High Court later rules she was wrong to block funding.

November 2007: A small number of guns are handed over by members of the South East Antrim faction of the Ulster Defence Association. The move was not sanctioned by the UDA's so-called "inner council" and was therefore not viewed as a beginning of a process of decommissioning. The UDA stands down part of its organisation, the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).

September 2008: Senior DUP members reveal they have held talks with leading loyalists to encourage an end to criminality and the decommissioning of weapons.

December 2008: Secretary of State Shaun Woodward says the decommissioning amnesty period will end in 2010.

January 2009: Mr Woodward confirms that while decommissioning legislation has been extended, he will withdraw the powers if the groups do not begin decommissioning by August.

June 2009: The UVF and Red Hand Commando say they have completed a process of decommissioning. UDA confirms it has started a process that would lead to the destruction of all its arms.

January 2010: The UDA is expected to announce it has put its weapons beyond use.



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