The Sunday Telegraph carries a story by Alan Murray and Melissa Kite,IRA can keep guns under British deal, claim Unionists , in which it is claimed proposals were put to the UDA and UPRG during discussions with NIO officials last month.Quote
The IRA will be allowed to keep 15 per cent of its weapons for “self-defence” under secret plans to tempt republicans back into a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, Unionists said yesterday.
The deal was revealed to them by British officials during a private briefing at Stormont last month, they claimed.
Under the terms, the IRA would be allowed to keep handguns and small submachine guns suitable for close combat and deterring assasinations – despite the Government’s Ulster peace plan which stipulates that paramilitaries must decommission all weapons.
Needless to say this has caused some upset.
Michael McGimpsey, the senior Ulster Unionist Party negotiator and the assembly member for south Belfast, said that the retention of even a small number of guns was “disgraceful”.
“It turns law and order and moral imperatives totally on its head,” he said. “Nobody believes for a second that if they were allowed to keep weapons for self-defence they would be there for anything other than to threaten their own community and to ensure discipline in their organisation.
“If they need protection, they are going to have to be protected in the same way as the rest of us – by the police. There is no place for any illegal weapons. It would be an absolute disgrace and something that will be completely and utterly rejected by anyone with any sense at all.”