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2/21/2020 11:35:28 PM
Posted: 5/6/2003 7:35:35 PM EST
The IRA promised if the Good Friday Agreement was fully implemented it would make it possible to definitively set aside its arms, it has emerged.

The organisation has also said that Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams's explanation of the IRA statement - which was given to London and Dublin on 13 April - accurately reflected its position.

The IRA released two statements on Tuesday night - the one given to the two governments three weeks ago and another which sets out its current thinking.

Mr Adams has publicly interpreted the first statement - the one the governments have - and the IRA has said he gave an accurate explanation of its position.

He said there would be no IRA activities which would undermine the Good Friday Agreement or the peace process.

Earlier on Tuesday, the British and Irish Governments said there had to be an unambiguous response from the IRA on the issue of paramilitary activity.

While the original IRA statement does represent some progress, unfortunately it does not answer the questions which the British and Irish governments put to the IRA

Paul Murphy
Secretary of state
Following talks in Dublin with Irish Premier Bertie Ahern, Tony Blair said clear and unequivocal answers were needed to move the whole process forward.

The two leaders also set out which parts of their joint declaration should be implemented.

It is understood the IRA had recent meetings with the decommissioning body and the organisation has said there were advanced preparations to put more of its arms beyond use.

On 13 April, the IRA told the two governments that it was resolved to see the complete and final closure of the conflict and that it was determined to ensure that its "activities, disciplines and strategies" would be consistent with this.

It also said the full and irreversible implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the commitments in the joint declaration would provide a context in which the IRA could definitively set aside arms to further its political objectives.

'Posed no threat'

A final decision on this would be taken at what the IRA calls an army convention - a meeting which represents the views of all its members.

The IRA said it was committed to making the peace process work, but said its statement of 13 April had been overtaken by events.

IRA said Gerry Adams's statement accurately reflected its position
However, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Paul Murphy challenged the IRA to be more specific.

"While the original IRA statement does represent some progress, unfortunately it does not answer the questions which the British and Irish governments put to the IRA and Sinn Fein spokespersons," he said.

"Does this mean punishment beatings will end? Does this mean exiling people will end? Does this mean targeting and weapons procurement will end? On the basis of these statements we simply do not know."

Speaking later in the House of Commons, Mr Murphy said the government would "work openly and transparently to fulfil our side of the bargain".

"I call upon the IRA to find the clarity in both words and in deeds to convince the people of Northern Ireland that they are ready to fulfil theirs."

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said the statement proved "the IRA were not prepared to engage in acts of completion".

"They talked of a third act of decommissioning, using it as a bargaining chip. They cynically thought that a large act of decommissioning could buy us off, but we called their bluff," he said.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said it was clear the statement passed to the governments was not as clear and unambiguous as Sinn Fein had claimed.

He said the statement and recent "word games" between republicans and the governments "vindicate the SDLP's continued health warning about the dangers of a process being conducted in a way which veers between stand-offery and choreography".

Northern Ireland's devolved administration was suspended on 14 October 2002, amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the heart of the Stormont government.

Last week, the UK prime minister said Northern Ireland's Assembly elections could not go ahead because the IRA had given a "point-blank" refusal to answer his questions on its future intentions.

Despite two attempts by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to stress the IRA posed no threat to the Good Friday Agreement, Downing Street insisted Mr Blair needed more guarantees that all paramilitary activity would end for good.

Sinn Fein has said that the IRA remained prepared to carry out an act of disarmament if there is a "positive response" from the British and Irish Governments and Ulster Unionist Party.

Link Posted: 5/6/2003 8:22:38 PM EST
It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

I find it somewhat remarkable that the relatively powerful British armed forces (and police agencies) have never been able to reign in the relatively small IRA.

But it's hard to track down careful terrorists.

I want to know, will these TERRORISTS of the IRA actually be able to live clean lives from now on? And will they be caught and punished for their previous activities?

Rightful indignation be damned, shooting children because they don't worship the same branch of Christianity you do is inexcusable and totally intolerable.

Link Posted: 5/6/2003 8:35:00 PM EST
I believe one of the agreements of the Clinton-era exonerated all guilty parties. If I recall correctly, it didn't matter what transgressions were made in the past, you were guaranteed to be free from prosecution.

Now, if those same Sinn Fein militants caused illegal harm after the agreement, they could still be sought and prosecuted.

You're right, it will be interesting to see the result.
Link Posted: 5/7/2003 2:39:23 AM EST
God might forgive, and Clinton might forgive, (because he has so many sins of his own, I think), but I would never agree to let child-murdering terrorists off the hook until I was done gutting them with said hook.

Link Posted: 5/7/2003 3:23:02 AM EST
Roger that!
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