Northern Ireland

UVF 'still has guns' - PUP leader

The interim leader of the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party has said he believes the paramilitary organisation has held on to some of its weapons.

Dr John Kyle was speaking on Saturday, a day after the funeral of Bobby Moffett, who was shot dead on the Shankill Road in Belfast last week.

Police have said he was killed by "individuals linked to the UVF".

Dawn Purvis stepped down from the PUP leadership and left the party in protest at Mr Moffett's murder.

The UVF claimed to have decommissioned all its weapons last year.

However, the Independent Monitoring Commission said in its latest report that it could not rule out that some arms had been retained in some parts of the organisation.

And Dr Kyle said that he believed that they had not all been destroyed.

"Clearly there are still weapons around and there are people who still believe that violence is justifiable and are prepared to resort to it," he said.

'Lured'

Chief Inspector John McVea said police believed Mr Moffett had been "lured to his death" as part of a dispute involving those "linked to the UVF".

Nearly 2,000 mourners attended the funeral of the loyalist.

Many lined the streets outside the Moffett family home on Friday.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds and his DUP colleague Nelson McCausland were among those attending.

Mr Dodds said the people of the Shankill had sent out a very powerful message to the paramilitaries that the community wanted to move on.

He said he hoped the "sickening murder" would be a watershed in the history of the Shankill.

Earlier, Mr McVea, who is leading the hunt for Mr Moffett's killers, described his murder as "a public execution".

He said two masked gunmen had shot him three times with shotguns.

Police said they believe the killers came out of Conway Street and appealed for information about two vehicles - a silver blue Skoda Octavia and a light blue Audi A4 - which they believe may have been used by the gunmen.

Two similar vehicles have been seized by police during 31 searches since the killing.

Mr McVea said he believed the key to catching the killers lay with the people of the Shankill and said anyone who came forward would be offered the full protection of the law.

The loyalist paramilitary group had allegedly sent warnings to some people not to attend the funeral.

Funeral threat claims

Text messages had been circulating telling people not to go to the funeral. It was not clear from where the messages orginate.

BBC Ireland correspondent Mark Simpson said: "The murder has also raised questions about the UVF's claim to have decommissioned all of its weapons."

On Thursday, at the vigil, the crowd gathered on the road where Mr Moffett was killed. His sister, Irene Moffett, said she did not know how her family would cope.

"With the strength of our whole family we will get through it together, and with the strength of the people that've been here, we will."

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