The IRA would also have “definitively set aside arms” and ensured that all its activities would have ended – had the British and Irish governments along with the Ulster Unionists accepted its statement.
Two IRA statements were simultaneously issued on Tuesday in Belfast, as the British and Irish governments met in Dublin to try and rescue something from the wreckage of last week’s cancellation of elections to a new Assembly.
The statements, one dated April 13 and the other May 6, were issued under the usual name of P. O’Neill. They make it clear, however, that the IRA’s offer is now off the table as it has been “overtaken by events.”
The IRA had also moved munitions (including weapons, explosives etc.) and made preparations for a third act of decommissioning – but the two governments’ rejection of its statement of April 13 ended these plans.
The IRA statement of April 13, passed to the two governments and the UUP leader, David Trimble, went further than any previous one in stating that it was resolved to end its conflict.
In a key passage, it said the implementation of the agreement and other commitments “will provide a context in which the IRA can proceed to definitively set aside arms to further our political objectives.”
The statement continued: “When there is such a context, this decision can be taken only by a General Army Convention representing all volunteers.” Such a convention would mean the grassroots of the IRA mandating delegates to a national vote to end its war.
On decommissioning its arms, the May 6 IRA statement makes clear that the Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, accurately reflected its intention to decommission all its weapons, not just some of them.
The April 13 statement said that the commitments of the two governments, “including the ending of the suspension of the political institutions, and the firm pledge by the leader of the UUP that he will actively support the sustained working of the political institutions and other elements of the Agreement, enables us to do this.”
The April 13 statement held out an apparent olive branch to unionists, saying that the IRA accepts its does not fully understand their concerns but is “prepared to listen and to learn.”
It said it is “committed to playing our part in creating the conditions in which unionists, nationalists and republicans can live together peacefully.”
The May 6 statement accuses the two governments of “mischievously leaking and misrepresenting” its earlier attempts at reaching a mutually acceptable draft statement and says this was “an abuse of trust.”
It also accuses the British prime minister, Tony Blair, of a “clear breach of protocol” and of “publicly misquoting aspects of our statement” on the day he posed three questions to the IRA.
It says the IRA was prepared to act immediately on a third act of decommissioning and had made contact several times with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning to prepare for that.
Those preparations were at an “advanced stage” when the two governments and the UUP rejected its statement and it was placing that statement on the public record so people could judge for themselves.