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Loyalists closer to decommissioning guns, says church leader

Loyalists in Northern Ireland are moving towards decommissioning their weapons, the head of the Presbyterian church said today.

Representatives of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) have accepted the days of violence are in the past, moderator Donald Patton said following a meeting in Belfast.

The organisation, responsible for a string of sectarian killings during the Troubles, has been set a Government deadline of this summer to hand over guns or face sanctions.

Dr Patton said: ``They said themselves that violence isn't the way forward, that is in the past and violence can't contribute to a positive future for anybody.''

He led the church delegation at the Presbyterian headquarters Church House while the loyalist grouping, known as the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG), included Frankie Gallagher and William McQuiston.

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