Category: Archive

Provos sticking to pledge: Hain

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

In advance of an international watchdog’s evaluation of the IRA due out later this month, Hain said the Provisionals appear to be sticking to their pledge to end the armed campaign become a “purely political” organization.
That assessment means plans for the restoration of a Northern Ireland government in 2006 remain on track, even though the Rev. Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party continues to resist the idea. The DUP said they need more
time and more evidence of the IRA’s intentions before they will agree to share power with Sinn Fein.
One of Paisley’s senior colleagues, North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, appeared to raise the bar for a return to power-sharing by saying his party now requires proof that the IRA is not involved in criminality.
Hain’s announcement indicates that a report from the Independent Monitoring Commission, due within weeks, should confirm that the IRA has stopped a range of illegal ceasefire activities, including punishment
beatings and the scouting of potential targets. The IMC report is based largely on British and Irish intelligence assessments.
The IRA promised on July 28 to become ‘purely political’, and followed last week by announcing it had disposed of all its weapons. An international panel headed by retired Canadian General John de Chastelain, a Catholic priest and a Protestant minister all witnessed the disposal in mid-September and said they believed it accounted for the IRA’s entire arsenal.
If the IMC delivers a second all-clear report in January, the governments hope to move to talks that would restore the Stormont administration, a government designed to be balanced between unionist and nationalist
parties. Hain said a second positive report meant ‘it would be time to start talking and move Northern Ireland forward.”
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who is due to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair later this month for talks on the North, said Sinn Fein’s future participation in politics depends on the IRA keeping its word.
Unless there is unequivocal evidence of the dismantling of the criminal structures and the disbandment of the terrorist machine, the fact that the
Provos keep quiet for a few months will not convince unionism to admit Sinn Fein into government,’ he said.
The DUP has been skeptical about the secrecy surrounding the IRA arms disposal – including the method used to disable the weapons and the exact amount of weaponry that was decommissioned – but General De Chastelain said the secrecy was necessary in order to get the IRA to agree to give up it weapons.
Paisley said the two clergymen who witnessed the disposal, Redemptorist priest, the Rev. Alec Reid, and Methodist minister, the Rev. Harold Good, were appointed by the IRA.
The Ulster Unionist Party, however, adopted a slightly different position. The party’s deputy leader, Danny Kennedy, indicated that the integrity of the clergymen was beyond question and he accepted that a
significant act of decommissioning had taken place.
However, the party said unionists still need assurances that the IRA has given up its violent
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said he believes unionists will need time and space to absorb the enormity of IRA disarmament, but that ‘more and more people on the unionist side’ would come to the conclusion that
decommissioning had taken place.

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