8 April 2004 Edition
IRA Easter Message 2004
The leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann extends fraternal greetings to all Volunteers, to republican activists and to our supporters and friends at home and abroad.
We send solidarity greetings to our imprisoned comrades and their families.
On this, the 88th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, we especially remember our patriot dead and extend solidarity to their families. We commemorate the freedom fighters of all generations who have given their lives for Irish freedom.
Ten years ago, we declared a complete cessation of military operations to enhance the democratic peace process. We stated our belief that an opportunity to secure a just and lasting settlement had been created. Our cessation was not only a definitive and powerful signal of our commitment to that process, it was also a defining moment in the recent history of this island.
We stated that others, especially the British Government, had a duty to face up to their responsibilities.
In an attempt to deflect from the significance of our initiative and evade their responsibilities, the British Government of that time and the political leaderships of unionism became fixated with achieving the surrender of the IRA. They failed and despite their opposition the peace process was created.
In the period since, the IRA leadership has consistently demonstrated our commitment to advancing the process through a series of substantive initiatives, which have included:
• Authorising our representative to meet with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD).
• Facilitating the inspection of IRA arms dumps by the International Inspectors on three separate occasions.
• Agreeing a scheme with the IICD on putting arms completely and verifiably beyond use.
• Implementing the agreed scheme on three separate occasions.
Throughout the ten years of our cessation there has been very serious provocation from British securocrats, their military forces and their allies in unionist paramilitarism.
In the same period, others within the British and Irish establishments have persisted with the idea of defeating republicans rather than moving forward. They are now on an offensive. The old conservative agenda has re-emerged.
The unionist paramilitaries are responding to that. IRA guns remain silent, despite an onslaught of unionist paramilitary violence against Catholics, including hundreds of attacks and a number of killings over the last year.
Today also, we are witnessing another attempt to criminalise and demonise republicans and the republican struggle. This time it is for selfish electoral reasons. Leading this are Irish politicians who stood idly by while Irish citizens, North and South, were being terrorised by the RUC, the British Army and their surrogates in the unionist death squads.
Twenty-three years ago, the men and women in the H-Blocks and Armagh Gaol defeated the policy of criminalisation. Ten Irish republicans died on Hunger Strike in defence of the integrity of the republican struggle. This new attempt will also fail.
Last October, agreements were made and commitments given. The IRA leadership fulfilled our commitments. The leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party and the two governments did not fulfil theirs. They acted in bad faith. Yet again the two governments are attempting to move the goalposts. This has caused justifiable anger. It is unacceptable that other protagonists should try to dictate the terms of our cessation.
The honouring of agreements and commitments is critical in instilling confidence and demonstrating that politics can work. They are essential elements of building an enduring political process.
The two governments, and in particular the British Government, must fulfil their commitments. Until they do so there can be little prospect of any progress.
Irish Republican Publicity Bureau,