UVF to disband (but will not give up guns)

Henry McDonald reports that ‘Ireland’s oldest terror group’ and the one which arguably fired the opening shots in the troubles, is going to disband, though not give up it’s guns: which raises concerns about where those guns will go, and who retains control of them if they are not decommissioned by IICD.

The UVF leader confirmed that the organisation plans to wind up all its paramilitary units and command structures. However, the UVF would not follow the IRA and decommission an arsenal that could arm up to two infantry battalions, he said. ‘The UVF and its political allies would have nothing to gain from decommissioning. The weapons will be put into deep freeze as a reassurance for those worried about future events.

‘But the UVF as an organisation will be no more. Members have three choices: they can go into full-time politics in the Progressive Unionist Party; they can go into community work in their areas; or they can simply leave and get on with the rest of their lives,’ he said.

The dissolution of the UVF, almost exactly 40 years after it was reconstituted, is a major boost for the peace process. Originally formed in 1912 by Sir Edward Carson in order to oppose Home Rule, the reborn UVF of 1966 fired the first shots of the Troubles.