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Northern Ireland: Decommissioning

Volume 713: debated on Thursday 22 October 2009


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.