IRA's decisive initiative
Last weekend, republicans commemorated the Hunger Strikes of 1981. On the anniversary of that unique and historic prison protest, freedom loving people paid tribute to the Blanketmen, the women in Armagh gaol, and the brave men who died on Hunger Strike. By coincidence, last weekend also saw statements from the British and Irish governments and from the IRA leadership.
The statement from the leadership of the IRA, carried in full on the page opposite, is of massive importance to the future of our country and must be recognised as such. It is both courageous and imaginative and is clearly intended to assuage some of the fears and suspicions expressed by the unionist section of our people. The IRA statement should be read very carefully. An Phoblacht is assured that the words used mean exactly what they say.
Unionism should recognise the integrity of the IRA initiative at this time. This is as good as it will get. For an undefeated army to make this remarkable concession to the search for peace is commendable. This initiative deserves support from all those who are genuinely concerned for the future of all of the Irish people. Republican activists must understand clearly the implications for all of us. We too must respect the integrity of the IRA words. We must move together to prosecute our struggle to its successful conclusion. We must raise our republican profile and win support for our cause.
Attempts to draw the Patten report into this or moves by the British government to retain the name of the RUC in any form will wreck this initiative. Tony Blair knows this, so does David Trimble. They must seize the moment. Now is the time for decisiveness, the time to move forward. The IRA have done their bit. Others must do likewise.