Loyalist disarming 'years away'

A decade on from their 1994 ceasefire and loyalist decommissioning is still "years away", according to a group linked to the UDA.

The Ulster Political Research Group - which gives political analysis to the UDA - wants to talk to the government about the future of the organisation.

But David Nicholl of the UPRG said arms would be the "last thing" addressed in terms of any movement from the UDA.

"In reality, if you are talking about loyalist decommissioning, we are years from that," he said.

BBC Northern Ireland security editor Brian Rowan said: "For a while the ceasefire was disciplined - surprisingly so when the IRA ended its 'complete cessation of military operations' and bombed London in February 1996.

"But there is no longer a Combined Command and, in the past 10 years, loyalists have turned their guns on each other, have been behind a number of sectarian murders, and elements inside the main paramilitary organisations have become identified with drugs and other criminal activities.

"Not one weapon has been decommissioned by any of the major groups."

One source familiar with what is happening in loyalism told BBC News Online: "If the IRA says the war is over and if they make a dramatic decommissioning act and if the political institutions are up and running, then people have to ask: What is our future role?"

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