Northern Ireland's Major Protestant Paramilitary Group Renounces Violence

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ Northern Ireland's major Protestant
paramilitary group, the Ulster Defense Association, is formally
renouncing violence.

But one commander says the group will not surrender its weapons
to international disarmament officials. South Belfast commander
Jackie McDonald says ``they are the people's guns.''

The group has an estimated 3,000 members across hardline parts
of Northern Ireland. It has loosely observed a cease-fire since
1994, but has refused to surrender a single bullet or bomb _ a
major objective of a 1998 peace accord.

The Ulster Defense Association is the last of Northern Ireland's
underground armies to renounce violence. The major Catholic-based
group the Irish Republican Army did so two years ago, but also
refused to give its weapons to international officials.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern welcomed the UDA's move, but
is urging it to give up its weapons, too.

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