Irish Republican News · October 24, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
De Chastelain could resign over confidentiality

A spokesman for Gen de Chastelain's Independent International Commission on Decommissioning confirmed the general and his fellow commissioners would resign if forced to reveal the extent of IRA arms moves without its agreement.

The spokesman said: ``With regards to confidentiality, if the commissioners were forced to disclose the inventory without the IRA agreeing to it, they would judge their position to be untenable.''

The IICD is an independent body to deal with the issue of arms with the IRA and paramilitary groups, in tandem with the demilitarisation of the British Army's presence in the North of Ireland. The body is bound by confidentiality agreements in its monitoring of the acts of decommissioning.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble was scathing in his criticism of the IICD, and particularly the presentation of their report on Tuesday, which he said had only discouraged unionists.

Unionists were angered by General de Chastelain's use of military language such as ``ordnance'' and ``munitions'' -- but mollified by the use of traditional British security force language by his colleague, Andrew Sens, who spoke of the ``death and destruction'' which the weaponry could have inflicted.

There were even critical comments by unionists regarding the General's choice of attire, his tweed jacket considered inappropriate for the event.

Nationalists have countered with calls on Mr Trimble to act as a leader to his community to build support for the peace process, instead of demanding that others do the job for him.

Sinn Féin's Caoimhghin O Caolain, speaking in the Dublin parliament, complained that ``too often the Ulster Unionist Party and David Trimble are portrayed not as political agents, acting in their own interests, with their own strategy, but as helpless victims of events outside of themselves.

``In this scenario it is republicans who have to make all the concessions and to take all the initiatives.

``But that is not what the Good Friday Agreement is about. It requires the political will and the political commitment of all parties and both governments to bring about change.''

Uncertainty remains over how much the two governments have been told about the IRA's actions on weapons, and the source of the information which the British government claims to have on the issue.

Reports that the IICD would pass its inventory of the arms which the IRA has put beyond use to the two governments have been denied, and pressure to do so has so far been resisted.

``The commission cannot comment on discussions with the Prime Ministers but the commissioners have not disclosed an inventory of the event,'' the IICD spokesman said.

There has been disappointment among nationalists that the IICD's work has not been fully and enthusiastically endorsed by either of the two governments.

Soeaking in the British parliament, Prime Minister Tony Blair told MPs: ``Under the decommissioning legislation, it is open to a paramilitary organisation to decommission with confidentiality. That is the arrangement they entered into with General de Chastelain.''

He added: ``We are not at liberty to disclose that information, but we are working hard to find a way to try and disclose it.''

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© 2003 Irish Republican News