1 April 1999 Edition
OUR GUNS ARE SILENT - IRA
In a statement issued by Oglaigh na hÉireann to An Phoblacht on Wednesday, 31 March, the IRA reiterated its commitment to achieving a just and lasting peace in Ireland. The following is the full text of the statement received. See also pages 8 and 9.
The leadership of Oglaigh na hÉireann extends fraternal greetings to republican activists, supporters and friends at home and abroad and thanks them for their continued assistance.
On this the 83rd anniversary of the Easter Rising we commemorate all those who have given their lives for Irish Freedom. Without their efforts and sacrifice the current opportunity for a just resolution to the conflict would not exist.
We send solidarity greetings to our comrades in Ireland and the USA.
We applaud the continuing steadfast commitment of the Volunteers of Oglaigh na hÉireann to the cause of Irish Freedom.
We reaffirm our commitment to our objectives, a united and independent Ireland, a national democracy, the achievement of which offers, we believe, the best guarantee of the establishment of a just and lasting peace. The IRA wants to see a permanent peace in this country.
We wholeheartedly support the efforts to secure a lasting resolution to the conflict. In our view the conflict is caused by British involvement in Irish affairs and by the injustices perpetuated by unionist misrule since partition over 75 years ago.
Over the past five years, we have called and maintained two prolonged cessations of military operations to enhance the democratic process and underline our definitive commitment to its success. We have contributed in a real and meaningful way to the creation of a climate which would facilitate the search for a durable peace settlement. IRA guns are silent.
Previously we described the Good Friday Agreement as a significant development and have waited patiently for evidence of its potential to deliver tangible progress. For the past 12 months progress towards its implementation has been blocked. The ongoing year long siege of the nationalist community of Portadown, escalated loyalist attacks at critical points over the past year and continuing evidence of collusion are indicators of opposition to a democratic peace settlement. This opposition must be overcome.
The potential of the peace process to deliver real and lasting peace lies in its ability to bring meaningful change, to remove the injustices which created the conflict and to end the conflict itself. If the political will exists the peace process contains the potential to resolve the conflict and deliver a durable peace.
Injustices which are direct consequences of the conflict must also be addressed. Towards this end we announced earlier this week, the outcome of our investigation into the location of the burial sites of a number of people executed by Oglaigh na hÉireann more than 20 years ago. This was a sincere attempt to do all within our power to rectify an injustice for which we accept full responsibility.
The challenge for everyone, but particularly the British government, remains the removal of the causes of conflict in our country.
BY CAITLIN DOHERTY
The series of talks that intensified during the week has so far failed to break the deadlock in the peace process. As An Phoblacht goes to press, meetings are ongoing in a bid to make progress.
On Monday, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and senior negotiator Martin McGuinness met with British direct ruler Majorie Mowlam. As senior members of Sinn Féin met with all pro-agreement parties, a further meeting with the Ulster Unionist Party was held. That evening, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness met with Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair.
On Tuesday, a further marathon round of talks was held between all the parties. In the evening, the most important face-to-face talks were held between Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Ulster Unionist John Taylor, First minister designate David Trimble, as well as Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair.
As Ahern and Blair left on Wednesday afternoon, they gave an upbeat assessment of the situation. However, concern was widespread about the manner in which the pace of events and meetings was left open. As both leaders left Hillsbourough Castle, where the talks were set to continue between the parties, David Trimble headed off. He was not alone. The Ulster Unionist took his whole negotiating team with him. He did not say when he would be back and merely indicated that this would be dependent on the pace of events. His move was certainly unhelpful at such a crucial stage of the talks and is a reflection of his attitude towards the whole process. On the contrary, Sinn Féin's reinforced negotiating team continued to meet with other parties in an attempt to secure the progress that is required.
Speaking at Hillsborough Castle on Wednesday evening, Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said: There were some ideas canvassed today- a number were put forward for discussion. Sinn Féin put some ideas forward. I have to say that none of these have broken the deadlock. so far no new ideas have emerged this evening.
``Sinn Fein is here in a positive mode- determined to end the impasse and secure the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. This morning, the IRA in its Easter message clearly sought to be helpful and make a positive contribution with a statement which promotes the peace process.
``Its important to point out that whatever is prepared or canvassed has to be in the context of the Agreement and respect for the democratic mandate of the parties. That is the safety blanket for the two governments and all the parties.
McLaughlin concluded: ``It is important to point out that this is not a dispute between two parties. It is the responsibility of the two governments and all the parties. The delay has been caused by a precondition which calls for Sinn Féin to deliver IRA weapons, something we have made clear is impossible in the terms demanded of us.''
The Oglaigh na hÉireann Easter message, widely publicised by the media on Wednesday, had been welcomed by many of the parties present at the talks. David Trimble, however, was dismissive of a message in which the leadership of Oglaigh na hÉireann stated that its guns lay silent and emphasised its contribution in a real and meaningful way to the creation of a climate which would facilitate the search for a durable peace settlement. The Easter message showed the positive leadership of Oglaigh na hÉireann and struck a positive note at a time of heightened tensions and uncertainty about the future.
The lack of progress on a grass-roots level, however, has so far failed to prove the potential of the Good Friday Agreement to deliver real change. In the past weeks, the attempts of loyalist death squads to murder nationalist families has intensified. Senior Sinn Féin members are under constant threat and leading republicans in isolated areas
have been the target of bomb attacks.
The murder of human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson also highlighted the degree of collusion between official British forces and loyalist death squads. The failure of the British and Irish governments to establish a fully international independent judicial investigation and inquiry is also a reflection of the way the nationalist community continues to be treated. The basis for justice is equality, but Rosemary Nelson's family and community continue to be treated as second class citizens.
In Portadown, the plight of the Garvaghy Road residents has also worsened. So far, the British government has failed to act to protect the nationalist residents from sectarian harassment and has remained silent as the Orange Order threatens more than 60 rallies before July.
The Ulster Unionists have not moved off their position guided by preconditions. David Trimble remains locked in an obstructionist mindset and continues, at this late stage, to employ stalling tactics, despite the fact that he himself has admitted that there are no preconditions to the establishment of the Assembly Executive.
Time is being used by David Trimble against the nationalist community. The only way to resolve the current deadlock is through partnership and a joint approach to problems; by showing leadership, and not by pandering to the will of the no-camp and wreckers of the Agreement.
Concern is increasingly being voiced at the games being played by unionism. Delaying the implementation of the Agreement is not merely unhelpful. David Trimble, by pursuing stalling and obstructionist tactics at a time the nationalist community is alarmed by his unwillingness to change, is attempting to silence some 175,000 voices and is again trying to deny Sinn Féin it's democratic mandate.
Through his refusal to move the process forward, David Trimble is undermining the credibility of the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process itself. By failing to stand up to the wreckers of peace, Trimble is failing to show the resolute leadership that was expected of him.
The onus is now on Mo Mowlam to show positive leadership and trigger the d'Hondt mechanism to ensure that the Executive meets by the first anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. She should have done so weeks ago. It has been repeated that there can be no further delay. But this week marks a new turn.
One thing is crystal clear: time is ticking against us. It is time to make an ultimate push for progress and ensure that the will of the vast majority of the people of the island is respected. It is time for Unionism to show its willingness to change. It is time for David Trimble to face up to his responsibilities. The push for progress must ultimately lead to a full and unconditional implementation of the Good Friday Agreement