3 February 2005 Edition
IRA offer withdrawn
In August 1994, the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann announced a complete cessation of all military operations. We did so to enhance the democratic peace process and underline our definitive commitment to its success.
That cessation ended in February 1996 because the British Government acted in bad faith when the then British Prime Minister John Major and Unionist leaders squandered that unprecedented opportunity to resolve the conflict.
However, we remained ready to engage positively and in July 1997 we reinstated the cessation on the same basis as before. Subsequently, we honoured the terms of our cessation with discipline and honesty, despite numerous attempts to misrepresent those terms by others.
Since then - over a period of almost eight years - our leadership took a succession of significant and ambitious initiatives designed to develop or save the peace process. Those included:
•Engaging with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning;
•Agreeing that independent inspectors could inspect the contents of a number of IRA dumps, allowing regular re-inspections to ensure that the weapons remained secure and the reporting of what they had done both publicly and to the IICD;
•Setting out a clear context for dealing definitively with the issue of arms;
•Acknowledging past mistakes, hurt and pain the IRA has caused to others and extending our sincere apologies and condolences for the deaths and injuries of non-combatants caused by us;
•Agreeing a scheme with the IICD to put arms completely and verifiably beyond use;
•Implementing this scheme to save the peace process by putting three separate tranches of weapons beyond use on:
- 23 October 2001
- 11 April 2002
- 21 October 2003; and
•Seeking to directly and publicly address unionist concerns.
In 2004 our leadership was prepared to speedily resolve the issue of arms, by Christmas if possible, and to invite two independent witnesses, from the Protestant and Catholic churches, to testify to this. In the context of a comprehensive agreement we were also prepared to move into a new mode and to instruct our Volunteers that there could be no involvement whatsoever in activities which might endanger that agreement.
These significant and substantive initiatives were our contributions to the peace process. Others, however, did not share that agenda. Instead, they demanded the humiliation of the IRA.
Our initiatives have been attacked, devalued and dismissed by pro-unionist and anti-republican elements, including the British Government. The Irish Government have lent themselves to this. Commitments have been broken or withdrawn. The progress and change promised on political, social, economic and cultural matters, as well as on demilitarisation, prisoners, equality and policing and justice, has not materialised to the extent required, or promised.
British forces, including the PSNI, remain actively engaged in both covert and overt operations, including raids on republicans' homes.
We are also acutely aware of the dangerous instability within militant unionism, much of it fostered by British military intelligence agencies. The British/loyalist apparatus for collusion remains intact.
The political institutions have been suspended for years now and there is an ongoing political impasse.
At this time it appears that the two governments are intent on changing the basis of the peace process. They claim that 'the obstacle now to a lasting and durable settlement... is the continuing paramilitary and criminal activity of the IRA'.
We reject this. It also belies the fact that a possible agreement last December was squandered by both governments pandering to rejectionist unionism instead of upholding their own commitments and honouring their own obligations.
We do not intend to remain quiescent within this unacceptable and unstable situation. It has tried our patience to the limit. Consequently, on reassessment of our position and in response to the governments and others withdrawing their commitments;
•We are taking all our proposals off the table.
•It is our intention to closely monitor ongoing developments and to protect to the best of our ability the rights of republicans and our support base.
The IRA has demonstrated our commitment to the peace process again and again. We want it to succeed. We have played a key role in achieving the progress achieved so far. We are prepared, as part of a genuine and collective effort, to do so again, if and when the conditions are created for this.
But peace cannot be built on ultimatums, false and malicious accusations or bad faith. Progress will not be sustained by the reinstatment of Thatcherite criminalisation strategies, which our ten comrades died defeating on hunger strike in 1981. We will not betray the courage of the hunger strikers either by tolerating criminality within our own ranks or false allegations of criminality against our organisation by petty politicians motivated by selfish interests, instead of the national need for a successful conclusion to the peace process.
Finally, we thank all those who have supported us through decades of struggle. We freely acknowledge our responsibility to enhance genuine efforts to build peace and justice. We reiterate our commitment to achieving Irish independence and our other republican objectives. We are determined that these objectives will be secured.
Irish Republican Publicity Bureau