IRA’s war is over, say govts

The London and Dublin governments now accept that the Provisional IRA’s war is over, according to statements made today by the British Direct Ruler in the 6-Counties, Peter Hain, and the 26-County Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell.

Hain said the Provisional IRA was no longer engaged in what he called “criminality”. While he said some IRA members may still be active on an individual basis, this was not an excuse for Ian Paisley’s DUP to refuse to share power with nationalists by the November 24 deadline.

He said: “There probably is still some localised individual criminality by former and maybe existing Provisional IRA members for their own private gain.

“What there is not, is any organised `from the centre` criminality any more.

“To that extent the IRA are delivering on their commitments made last July, not just in respect of shutting down paramilitary activity but also shutting down criminality.”

With just four months to go before the deadline for agreement, the DUP is still refusing to hold direct talks with Sinn Féin. Without a deal, the two governments have said the Belfast Assembly and power-sharing Executive will be replaced by joint ‘partnership’ government arrangements.

Michael McDowell chimed with Mr Hain’s assessment. Confirming the IRA had brought a halt to its activities, he told how leading members of Sinn Féin had called for the Garda police to investigate a vodka robbery earlier this year when it was alleged that a former member of the Provisional IRA was involved.

Mr McDowell said: “I believe that`s the first time remarks of that kind have been made in relation to a matter of that kind.”

Asked if he believed the IRA`s war was now over following its declarations and disarmament last summer, he added: “The Irish Government and British Government are working on that assumption, based on the evidence we have.”

Nigel Dodds, DUP MP for North Belfast, accused Mr Hain of trying to bluff his party and the unionist community into sharing power again with Sinn Féin.

“It is well known that this Secretary of State will resort to all manner of underhand tactics to put pressure on Unionists to agree to an inclusive executive,” he said.

Mr Dodds pointed to insisted a recent report by the unionist-dominated Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee at the London parliament, which alleged that not all IRA activity had finished.

“Repeatedly this Secretary of State has attempted to put the best possible gloss on the behaviour of Sinn Féin/IRA in the desperate hope that unionists will be prepared to tolerate the continuation of a level of terror and criminality in the same way that he is prepared to do,” he said.

“The idea that the Secretary of State can dismiss organised crime and explain it away as the work of individual IRA members and not the leadership is completely unacceptable and a massive distortion of the truth.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News