Movement seen on IRA weapons, policing
Movement seen on IRA weapons, policing

The Provisional IRA is reported to be engaged in putting its weapons beyond use this weekend, at the start of another week of significant movement in the peace process.

A series of meetings is planned in the coming days involving 26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams - all of whom are travelling to the United States.

Ahern and Blair are attending the United Nations summit, while Adams will also be in New York to meet prominent Irish-Americans.

Adams’ visit is seen as significant ahead of a possible statement from the international decommissioning body that IRA disarmament has been completed. In New York, Mr Adams will speak at the launch of the Clinton Global Initiative at the invitation of former President Bill Clinton.

In Dublin, President Bush’s special Irish peace envoy, Mr Mitchell Reiss, held a 45-minute meeting with the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. Both men called for IRA decommissioning to be carried out as soon as possible.

The Taoiseach said the IRA’s July statement needed to be “borne out by actions” and he believed this could provide an opportunity to inject renewed momentum into the process.

Mr Reiss said he hoped IRA decommissioning would be carried out sooner rather than later.

He said it was the quality of the decommissioning that took place, as opposed to the amount of material involved, that was of most importance. “I can be patient if we’re going to get the type of decommissioning we all want to see. I’m confident that it’s coming some time soon.”

Meanwhile, efforts are to be made to convince republicans to back the PSNI amid suggestions that further policing reforms may be in the works.

An international conference is to be held on policing in the North next spring, it has emerged.

Mr Reiss has said that the proposed conference is the result of an American initiative.

However, Policing Board member Ian Paisley jnr has said he believes the conference is intended to produce a ‘Patten Mark Two’ blueprint for “further concessions” to Sinn Féin, in an effort to win republican support for the PSNI.

Chris Patten - whose international commission led to the original plan to reform the old RUC into the PSNI - is expected to attend the conference.

British Direct Ruler Hain is expected to address policing issues in a speech to the Police Federation tomorrow.

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