Irish Republican News · July 30, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]

Movement expected as IRA ends armed campaign

The Irish peace process is expected to move rapidly over the next twelve months following a unilateral move by the Provisional IRA to stand down and disarm.

A renewed effort is to be made by the Dublin and London governments to finally implement the long-delayed 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Thursday saw unprecedented media attention on the IRA statement, which was unambiguous and conclusive. Ordering an end to its armed campaign, the IRA “compelled” all members to dump arms, operate by purely peaceful and democratic means and not “engage in any other activities whatsoever”.

The directness of the statement comes amid a new push to convince both unionists and nationalists that conflict and violence are at an end. Going far beyond the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, it will ensure pressure on the two governments and unionists to deliver on their end of the deal.

The first steps in a confidence-building process have already begun, with the announcement that three British military installations in the border area of South Armagh are to be removed.

Reports also indicate that the IRA is already in the process of decommissioning its remaining stocks of arms. The process is to be verified by General John de Chastelain’s Decommissioning Commission and Protestant and Catholic clergy. The IRA statement made no reference to unionist demands for ‘humiliation’ photographs of the event.

British Direct Ruler Peter Hain said the statement fulfils his governments’ demands for what Tony Blair called ‘acts of completion’, and would move to implement a number of elements of the Good Friday Agreement set out in its Joint Declaration two years ago.

“For its part the British government accepts that the IRA statement is intended to express acts of completion,” he said.

“On that basis, the Government will implement those areas of the Joint Declaration of 2003 which were dependent on this long-awaited decision by the IRA.”

He said legislation would be introduced this autumn to resolve the outstanding issue of IRA Volunteers ‘on the run’ from outstanding conflict-related prosecutions. He also promised to publish an updated version of the the British government’s demilitarisation programme.

Over the next six months, the British government’s IMC body, which monitors paramilitary groups, is to verify that the IRA has ended its armed struggle.

Confirming that the Independent Monitoring Commission would produce a report in January, Mr Hain said the IRA’s decision was “an historic turning point”, but added: Nevertheless, the way that the conflict has played out in Northern Ireland means that there will be some caution”.

The IMC report is widely expected to be positive and is should ease the way for unionist hardliners to take part in a power-sharing government in the North.

Questions remain, however, over the intention of unionist paramilitaries, who never maintained a declared ceasefire. Dissident republicans could be also boosted by any move by Sinn Féin to give support to the PSNI police, an issue which is far from resolved.

In Dublin, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said IRA members and Republicans must “stay united”.

“Some people may never come to terms with it. Maybe it is a step too far for some Republicans,” he said.

The Dublin government has said it hopes Thursday’s statement marked the beginning of a “transformation” process where the current order outlawing the Provisional IRA could be dropped.

The group has not disbanded, and is expected to continue as a peaceful, unarmed organisation.

However, Mr Adams also seemed to rule the possibility of the Costlier Four being released. Asked about the matter on Friday, he said the men had already courageously removed themselves from the equation, despite clearly qualifying for early release under the Good Friday Agreement.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News