News Letter

Mowlam (**former Secretary of State--now Sex Therapist) 'Rejected LVF Guns Handover'

Exclusive By Stephen Dempster Political Correspondent
Friday 16th July 2004

The Government turned down the first offer of decommissioning by paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, the News Letter has learned.

The LVF has claimed it proposed to Government officials that it would dismantle some of its armoury in a decommissioning gesture in 1998.

But, initially, the offer was rejected - not just once, but on three separate occasions.

The group said the rejection came from the then Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam.

The disarmament gesture was only accepted and given the go-ahead when representatives of the group threatened to go public on the Government's refusal to accept the guns, the LVF has said.

The NIO had no comment to make on the claims.

The LVF was eventually able to decommission at the fourth time of asking on December 18, 1998.

In front of the cameras, it handed in for dismantling: nine guns, 350 bullets, two pipe bombs and six detonators.

The paltry nature of the amounts, and age of some of the armoury, was secondary to the gesture, the LVF claimed.

Almost five years on, the LVF has said of the event: "That act of decommissioning was a tactical move by us to put the IRA behind the eight ball and test their sincerity on decommissioning.

"Yes, it was tactical. We did not support the direction of the peace process then and we are still sceptical now, even though the DUP are the biggest party in negotiations."

Since December, 1998, the LVF has been involved in a number of murders, mainly linked to feuds.

Recently, it was linked to an arms shipment which came in through Belfast port.

The Army sealed off the area for a week after a tip-off but the weapons had already been moved.

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