31 October 2002 Edition
IRA suspends contact with arms body
In a statement received by An Phoblacht on Wednesday, the IRA announced that it has ended contact with the IICD (Independent International Commission on Decommissioning). The statement from the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann comes in the wake of the recent speech by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the suspension of the political institutions by the British government.
The full text of the statement reads as follows:
"Recent events show that the leadership of unionism have set their faces against political change at this time.
There is also a real threat to the peace process from the British establishment and its agencies, as well as the loyalist murder gangs.
For our part, the IRA remains committed to the search for a just and lasting peace.
The complete cessation of military operations announced in July 1997 remains intact. In the past the IRA leadership has acted unilaterally to save and enhance the peace process. We have also outlined how, in our view, the full implementation by the two governments of their commitments could provide a political context with the potential to remove the causes of conflict.
Despite this, the British government says that the responsibility for this present crisis and its resolution lies with us and there is an effort to impose unacceptable and untenable ultimatums on the IRA. At the same time the British government, by its own admission, has not kept its commitments.
The IRA therefore, has suspended contact with the IICD.
The onus is on the British government and others to create confidence in this process. They can do this by honouring their obligations."
Irish Republican Publicity Bureau
Sinn Féin responds to IRA statement
Reacting to this evening's statement from the IRA, Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness said:
"In Tony Blair's recent speech, he acknowledged that this government has yet to implement the Good Friday Agreement. The political institutions are in suspension. That is the political context in which this statement has come.
"The statement speaks for itself and it is not the job of Sinn Féin to interpret it.
"But our focus remains the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. It is the task of political leaders to move the process on and get the political institutions back up and running.
"We will meet with the British Secretary of State tomorrow and we will outline once again to him our belief that the only way forward can be through the implementation of the Agreement."
New Direct Ruler, same crisis
Speaking after John Reid was replaced as Six-County direct ruler by Paul Murphy, Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly said it's not the personalities we should be focusing on, but the fact there remains a British Secretary of State in Ireland with extraordinary powers in regards to issues such as the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and policing change.
Paul Murphy is familiar with politics in the North as he was Political Development Minister during Mo Mowlam's time as Secretary of State from 1997 to 1999 and was Mowlam's right hand man when all political parties signed up to the Good Friday Agreement in 1999. The new British Secretary of State pledged his commitment to fully implement the Good Friday Agreement.
Gerry Kelly told An Phoblacht it is imperative that the institutions are restored immediately and that meaningful change is actively brought about.
"John Reid in the space of two years and at the behest of unionists suspended the institutions three times and therefore failed to grasp the imperative of the peace process," he said. "Instead of pushing for the quick implementation of the Agreement, he instead chose to lecture us on the cold house for unionism; in his wake Murphy has his work cut out."