INLA to destroy arms as deadline expires
THE Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) -- responsible for some of the most notorious killings during the Troubles -- is today expected to reveal it has destroyed its illegal arsenal of weapons.
In recent years the INLA traded in drugs and was involved in robbery, extortion and other criminal activities -- with some of its former operatives having supplied ready-made bombs to other criminal gangs.
The law permitting paramilitaries to hand over weapons without risk of prosecution is scheduled to expire tomorrow.
The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) is expected to confirm the INLA's weapons' surrender today.
The revelation came as the deal to save the North's power-sharing government faced its first significant challenge when the man tipped to be the new justice minister cast doubt on whether he would accept the post.
Alliance Party leader David Ford said the ruling Sinn Fein and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) coalition would have to do more to tackle sectarian divisions before he would put his name forward.
The DUP's deputy leader Nigel Dodds, chairman Lord Morrow and MP Gregory Campbell have remained steadfastly silent when asked if they backed the deal.
Their silence has led to taunts of a split from former DUP MEP, Jim Allister, leader of the breakaway Traditional Unionist Voice.
The DUP has played down speculation of a party split.
Meanwhile, DUP First Minister Peter Robinson and Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are to meet with Stormont's minor parties today to consider applications for the justice ministry.
Both of the main parties have agreed not to nominate candidates from within their own ranks -- and the non-aligned Alliance Party is considered the only one that could achieve the necessary cross-community backing of both the DUP and Sinn Fein in a vote.