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Northern Ireland: Decommissioning

Volume 713: debated on Thursday 22 October 2009

Statement

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Shaun Woodward) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

At the start of September I received a report from the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). I have placed a copy of the report in the Library.

The IICD reports that it has overseen a decommissioning event by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Red Hand Commando (RHC). The IICD believes that it has now completed the decommissioning of UVF/RHC arms.

The IICD also reports that it has overseen an act of decommissioning by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). It has received assurances that this is the first in a series of acts and that the UDA has committed to decommission the remainder of its arms before the expiry of the IICD’s mandate.

This is a significant report that confirms that substantial practical progress has been made on decommissioning loyalist paramilitary weapons. This is a tremendous achievement that reflects the hard work of the IICD. It is to be congratulated.

In February I committed to bring the decommissioning amnesty period to an early end if there had not been substantial progress within the six months that followed extension. In light of this report I have therefore decided to let the decommissioning amnesty period continue to run until February 2010. I urge all paramilitary groups to continue to show leadership and complete the decommissioning process.