Irish Republican News · July 16, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Decommissioning chief arrives

The head of the arms decommissioning body is already in Belfast awaiting developments ahead of an expected move by the Provisional IRA to disarm.

Canadian General John de Chastelain - the Chairman of the International Independent Commission on Decommissioning - is expected to keep tabs as IRA arms are put beyond use.

Speculation has continued that the controversial statement could come within the next couple of weeks. The move could polarise republican opinion as Sinn Féin continues to try to revive the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has refused to comment on when the IRA statement on its future would emerge and instead said the focus should be on a positive outcome.

He was in Dublin for talks with 26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern about a range of issues, including the IRA stance and the marching season.

Unionists and Dublin officials are demanding that the statement be definitive and comprehensive. The Taoiseach said that even though he cannot be sure of a positive response from the IRA, he was hopeful.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Adams objected to suggestions by news-hungry journalists that the statement was overdue and said he remained positive about what it would say.

“What do you mean the long-awaited statement from the IRA? I only made my appeal in April. Let’s give time to these people to sort out this matter. I’ve stayed away from speculating about what time it will take.

“Obviously the focus has to be on the type of positive outcome that I have appealed for. Let’s all of us try and manage the situation as best we can between now and then,” he said.

Mr Adams also refused to speculate on how any further marching season disturbances may impact on any impending statement.

“I don’t want to speculate about anything other than all of us to try and ensure that the continuation of this marching season is as peaceful as possible.”

With more contentious parades looming, Mr Adams said the peace process had “gotten off lightly” at Ardoyne and called on the Orange Order to engage in dialogue to stop planned marches spilling over into violence.

“I know there’s been a focus on how the whole thing broke down but I think, relatively speaking, we got off very lightly despite the fact that the Orangemen won’t talk and we got off very lightly despite the fact that the Parades Commission made the type of decision they did.

“I would like to think that this entire process doesn’t end up with peoples’ lives being turned upside down every time Orangemen or other marching orders want to go in somewhere where they are not welcome,” he said.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News