Major Northern Ireland Militia Renounces Violence

Paramilitary group observes Remembrance Day with gesture toward peace
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2007 10:55 AM CST
A member of the Ulster Defence Association attends a Remembrance Sunday service in the Loyalist Sandy Row area of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007. The major Northern Ireland Protestant...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The largest Protestant paramilitary group in Northern Ireland stood down yesterday but didn't commit to destroying its arms, the Guardian reports. The Ulster Defense Association, the third and last of the major militant groups in the region to renounce violence, announced its commitment to "a society where violence and weaponry are ghosts of the past," RTE reports.

The Catholic IRA and Protestant Ulster Volunteer Force have already laid down their arms, but only the IRA has turned over its arsenal to international officials overseeing the disarmament process, the LA Times reports. Protestants in Belfast want the UDA to retain its arms in case a younger IRA generation resumes bloodshed, said a UDA commander, calling the weapons "the people's guns."