“What’s the trade-off?”

The UK government’s attempt to renew the decommissioning legislation, albeit with a 6 month report from the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning tacked on, provides an opportunity to post Northern Ireland Justice Minister Paul Goggins’ comments on that legislation, and the report, on the Politics Show on Sunday. He has, after all, had private talks with the political representatives of the UDA and “other leading loyalists”. Kevin Sharkey’s report on opinions on decommissioning elsewhere is below the fold. Adds The updated BBC report now notes that DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has told a committee of MPs in Westminster that senior members of the party would be meeting with UDA and UVF representatives – “We’re engaging with paramilitary organisations, not for the purpose of giving them credibility in the democratic world, but to make sure that they take the steps that are necessary to end violence and criminality, to remove their weapons and to enter into a fully democratic society”.

Kevin Sharkey reports on opinions elsewhere on decommissioning by loyalist paramilitary groups.

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  • Rory Carr

    The BBC Radio 4 news bulletin at noon reported that a 6-month deadline had been imposed. Is this inaccurate?

    I had visions of Shaun Woodward standing outside Jackie McDonald’s house with a SWAT squad of NIO box-wallahs in armour-plated pin stripes and armed to the teeth with the latest Blackberries while Woodward shouts through a loud-hailer, “Drop your weapons and come out! You have six months. After that my men have instructions to employ a deadly warning of another six months. There will be no negotiation. Probably.”

  • Pete Baker


    I haven’t seen the detail of the legislation, yet, but what Paul Goggins described on Sunday wasn’t necessarily a deadline.

    They’ll consider the report from the IICD in six months time.

    And then decide whether, or not, to annul the legislation.

  • Rory Carr

    Oh just some reassuring spin from the BBC then to placate the apathetic news browsers this side of the pond. We may get some hard analysis later when the Beeb’s ‘guvnors’ reckon the plebs will be too busy watching Jonathan Ross’s Big Brother Changing Rooms on Ice to listen in.

  • jj

    And what happens if they don’t??

  • lorraine

    they won’t decommision because there is no overall discipline or military control of these organisations, because they are not disciplined military organisations.

    their raison d’etre was simple: drink, drugs, a gangster lifestyle and the wholesale slaughter of innocents, justified by labelling their victims: “Fenians”.

    the development of political alternatives to violence more than amply demonstrates the moral and social bankruptcy of these organisations who are now more of a threat to protestant communities than republicans ever were!

  • They will probably hand them over. The noose is getting tighter….

    JD on lunchtime news said that there may be movement…

  • cut the bull

    I alluded to this in an ealier thread. I hope the DUP have some success but I would again repeat the need for the DUP to lobby the Ulster Resistance Movement to call a ceasefire and decommission its weapons.

    I think Tommy Cheevers asking to put our trust in the rust is ludicrous in the aftermath of IRA decommissioning.

    Members of the Loyal Orders like Tommy would be doing their community a favour if they put their effort into persuading Loyalists to decommission weapons

  • Earnan

    I’ve always thought “paramilitary” was not quite the correct team for these groups.

    Pro-state death squads was more like it.

  • Glencoppagagh

    What is all this decommissioning nonsense about. If there are illegal arms and their whereabouts are known, the police should simply move in and seize them just as they should have done on both sides of the border with IRA weapons.
    “Pro-state death squads was more like it”
    As opposed to anti-state death skwaads.

  • PUP


    I havent read the legislation myself either. But my personal understanding is that the legislation runs out in 6 months. At that point progress needs to be shown to use the second 6 month period.

    I think the Labour government have increased difficulty selling an extension to the Commons and the Lords and are not convinced they can do so again, so in that sense they would view it as a deadline.

  • Pete Baker


    My understanding is as I have indicated above.

    And nothing that I’ve heard from anyone, Shaun Woodward included, indicates differently.

    The government will receive a report from the IICD in 6 months time and then they’ll decide whether or not to annul the legislation.

    Otherwise the legislation remains in place for a year.

    What Shaun Woodward has stated is that, once the year is up, the legislation will not be renewed again.

  • PUP


    I think the practicalities of what we are saying is the same. My choice of wording may have been wrong.

    Six months – they need reason to believe that progress has been made or they will/have to annul.

    12 months – that is it. Even if they wanted to extend they probably couldn’t get it through the Commons and Lords.

  • Pete Baker

    Possibly, PUP.

    But the fact remains. They don’t have to annul the legislation at any point before the year is up.

    The UK government will have to decide whether, or not, to actively annul the legislation after 6 months – a decision which they say will be taken on the basis of an IICD report.

    Otherwise it continues for the full year.

    In other words, the full year remains the default position.

  • Ian

    And as Eddie McGrady pointed out, by August Parliament will have broken up for the summer so they won’t even get to discuss the IICD report until October, 8 months after the renewal. For the sake of another 4 months I doubt the government would bother annulling the legislation.

    Surely though the key timeframe is the devolution of justice. That should happen within the next year and then devolution should be on a firmer footing, the spectre of ‘Plan B’ recedes further and the final excuse for loyalists to delay decommissioning is removed.

  • Realist

    “12 months – that is it”

    Any truth that the “Loyalist” paramilitaries have asked Jonny Logan to prepare a re-mix to support their delay in doing what needs to be done?

  • PUP


    I see what you mean. I suppose you could legitimately argue (and this may be your point) that it is simply a hollow process put up to placate those opposed to the extension of the legislation at all.

    Regardless it is a new element of the legislation and could provide a new dynamic.