Page last updated at 13:37 GMT, Sunday, 28 June 2009 14:37 UK

Arms witness hails loyalist move

Reverend Harold Good
The Reverend Harold Good witnessed IRA decommissioning

One of the independent witnesses to IRA decommissioning has welcomed the steps taken by loyalist paramilitaries to give up their arms.

The UVF and Red Hand Commando said on Saturday their weapons and explosives were "totally and irreversibly beyond use".

The independent body overseeing decommissioning confirmed the UDA and UFF had begun their process.

Reverend Harold Good said it was another step towards normality in NI.

"We now can look forward knowing that the paramilitary organisations have declared to themselves, to each other, and to all of us, that their war is over," he said.

"I think it gives grounds for great confidence and it cements our peace process."

The Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, said "there is absolutely no prospect" of money being paid to the UDA to complete any decommissioning process.

"Whatever funds are under the tutelage of the Executive in the North, ourselves and the DUP and the other parties in the Executive will have to agree how those funds are distributed," he said.

"Those funds can only be distributed on the basis of objective need not as a pay-off to any armed group and that is certainly not going to happen."

Meanwhile, in a separate development, a Church of Ireland bishop has said Protestants need to accept their part in the Troubles as a community, apologise, and confess their sin.

Dr Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore, said Protestants are inclined to think that they were entirely the victims of the Troubles and that it was others who had prolonged the decades of sectarian conflict.

Speaking on Sunday Sequence on Radio Ulster, he said: "We feel as a Protestant community that we were the status quo, we were doing things in an honourable kind of way, and along came terrorists and difficult people who upset the whole apple cart.

"I think there is an inclination to say: 'these were the baddies and we were the goodies'."

A statement from the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning on the the UVF/RHC disarmament process is expected in the next few days.

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