An official announcement by the IICD arms decommissioning body that the Provisional IRA has fully disarmed is to be announced this afternoon.

The IRA announced an end to its armed campaign in July, but this latest development is seen as the most substanatial move to peace since the 1994 ceasefire.

General John de Chastelain, head of the body overseeing the disarmament, is then expected to give a news conference, with statements from the two independent witnesses. These are clergymen from either side of the North's political divide: Catholic churchman Fr Alex Reid, who has long played a behind-the-scenes role in the peace process, and the ex-methodist president Harold Good.

Separate statements are also expected to be forthcoming from Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and the IRA. Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness will travel to Washington on Tuesday where he is expected to brief Irish Americans.

"I am confident that tomorrow will bring the final chapter on the issue of IRA arms," Mr McGuinness said last night.

"I believe that Ireland stands on the cusp of a truly historic advance and I hope that people across the island will respond positively in the time ahead," he added.

At the British Labour Party conference in Brighton on Wednesday, British Direct Ruler Peter Hain is expected to announce a number of conesssions to unionists aimed at persuading the DUP to adopt a more positive response to the IRA move than has been predicted.

However, DUP leader Ian Paisley has claimed that a secret deal has been reached over the disarmament, and has demanded that a witness of his choice verifies it.

In addition, Mr Paisley has demanded a photographic record to the disarmament process, a demand he has openly linked to the humiliation of the IRA.

"Unionists are not going to be pushed over by the duplicity of either the IRA or the two governments," said Mr Paisley.

"We have a right to know the truth. The day for deception is over, the day for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth has come."

"A large propaganda campaign by the Government to sell the diluted form of decommissioning agreed with the IRA will not relieve the situation," Mr Paisley added.

British Direct Ruler Peter Hain said last week that any decommissioning had to be "credible".

"People have got to see that there is the biggest dumping of arms and getting rid of the IRA's arsenal than ever before," he said.

He said decommissioning could lead to the resumption of self-government.

"When that is clear then I think we should get all the parties round to start discussing the resumption of self- government."

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