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Gusty Spence pictured on 3 May 2007, after reading a statement declaring that the UVF was putting its weapons beyond use. Paul Faith/PA Wire
Gusty Spence

Former UVF leader Gusty Spence dead at 78

Spence, who was jailed for the murder of a Catholic man in the sixties, later was at the forefront of the UVF ceasefire.

THE FOUNDER OF the modern Ulster Volunteer Force Gusty Spence has died at the age of 78.

Spence was jailed for life for the murder of a Catholic man in 1966. After spending 18 years in prison he later become involved in politics.

The BBC reports that Spence was involved in the announcement of the loyalist paramilitary ceasefires in 1994, and that he announced in 2007 that the UVF was putting its weapons out of reach, and that the Red Hand Commando was ceasing to exist in its previous form.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has described Spence as a man who dedicated himself to peace and reconciliation for much of his later life. He also said that he was instrumental in separating loyalism from sectarianism.

Brian Ervine, former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party called him a “role model” and said that without him, there may never have been peace in the North.

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