26 October 2000 Edition
IRA honours its commitments
In a statement received exclusively by An Phoblacht from Óglaigh na hÉireann on Wednesday, 25 October, the IRA reiterates its commitment to a just and lasting peace, It emphasises that it has honoured all its commitments but points out that the British government ``has thus far not honoured its undertakings''. Nonetheless, ``the IRA leadership has decided that the re-inspection of a number of arms dumps will be repeated to confirm that our weapons remain secure''. The IRA also announces that it will resume discussions with the Decommissioning Body ``when we are satisfied that the peace process will be advanced by those discussions''.
The statement concludes: ``The IRA are doing our best to enhance the peace process. This is not our responsibility alone. Others also must play their part.
``The political responsibility for advancing the current situation and making progress rests with the two governments, especially the British government.''
The following is the full text of the IRA statement:
``The leadership of Óglaigh na h-Éireann is committed to a just and lasting peace.
In recent years we have engaged in an unprecedented series of substantial and historic initiatives to enhance the peace process.
The record shows that we have honoured every commitment we have made.
In this context, and despite the abuse of the peace process by those who persist with the aim of defeating the IRA and Irish republicanism, and the obvious failure of the British government to honour its obligations under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and the commitments made at Hillsborough, the leadership of the IRA has decided:
- to honour all commitments entered into by us and to underpin the peace process. ALL undertakings by us were premised clearly on the speedy and full implementation of the commitments made by the two governments on 5 May and the commitments made under the Good Friday Agreement.
- The British government has thus far not honoured its undertakings. Despite this the IRA leadership has decided that the re-inspection of a number of arms dumps will be repeated to confirm that our weapons remain secure.
In many ways this re-inspection is more important than the first inspection.
- We have also decided to resume discussions with the IICD when we are satisfied that the peace process will be advanced by those discussions. On 25 June we re-established contact with the Commission. Because the British government has yet to honour its undertakings, we have not resumed discussions with the IICD. Neither have we broken off contact.
- These actions announced by us today represent clear and irrefutable evidence of the IRA's commitment to a just and equitable peace settlement.
The significance of these decisions should not be underestimated or undervalued, not least because of developments since another initiative by us resulted in the political institutions being established on 2 December after 18 months of impasse.
Less than three months later the British government suspended these institutions. This was despite the IICD February report which welcomed our belief that the `state of perpetual crisis' can be averted and that the issue of arms can be resolved.
The IICD recognised that the IRA provides no threat to the peace process. It also accepted the importance of the IRA's contribution and support for the process as issues of considerable significance for peace.
The IICD reported that all of this held out the real prospect of an agreement which would enable it to fulfil the substance of its mandate.
Despite the bad faith involved in the British government's suspension of the institutions, within weeks the Sinn Féin leadership put to us and to the two governments ideas that had the potential to overcome this crisis.
Following this on 5 May the British and Irish governments issued a joint letter and a joint statement setting out commitments by the two governments to the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement by June 2000.
The British government publicly and privately committed itself to deal with a range of matters including human rights, equality, justice, demilitarisation and policing.
Our commitment to a just and permanent peace was underlined once again when we announced our initiative of 6 May.
We said that we will initiate a process that will completely and verifiably put IRA arms beyond use. We explained the context for this:
``The full implementation, on a progressive and irreversible basis, by the two governments, especially the British government, of what they have agreed will provide a political context, in an enduring political process, with the potential to remove the causes of conflict and in which Irish republicans and unionists can, as equals, pursue our respective political objectives peacefully.''
And importantly we announced that we were prepared to put in place a confidence-building measure to confirm that our weapons remained secure. This was widely welcomed and recognised as a huge and historically unprecedented departure by us.
Finally we committed ourselves to resume contact with the IICD and to further discussions with the Commission on the basis of the IRA leadership's commitment to resolving the issue of arms.
On Monday 26 June in a public statement we confirmed that the commitments made by us on 6 May had been fulfilled. At that point the British government had not delivered on its commitments.
Now months later the British government has yet to honour its commitments.
The IRA are doing our best to enhance the peace process. This is not our responsibility alone. Others also must play their part.
The political responsibility for advancing the current situation and making progress rests with the two governments, especially the British government.''
Adams welcomes IRA statement
Gerry Adams last night welcomed the IRA statement as ``good news'' and cautioned against those who are attempting to downplay the IRA's efforts.
``It is a difficult thing for the IRA to do and it will cause some difficulty for republicans,'' he said. Adams said that the Óglaigh na hÉireann move was made despite a complete failure by the British Government to follow through on their commitments to the peace process. ``In areas such as South Armagh we have seen a remilitarisation by the British Army. If one asks the people there, or the people of Divis Flats, there has been no change so far,'' Adams said. He called on the British government to match the IRA's commitment to the process.
Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin's spokesperson on policing, told An Phoblacht that he belkieved the IRA's statement would surprise many republicans, who have witnessed the reneging of the British government, its minimalist approach to demilitarisation and policing and to other commitments given in May.
``The IRA leadership has obviously taken a long-headed view of the process,'' he said, ``despite what I am sure is their own anger at the behaviour of the British.
``This is another of a series of initiatives taken by the IRA keadershop over the past couple of years to try to have a positive impact on the peace process and to move it forward.''
Reacting to negative comments from the UUP's Jeffrey Donaldson, Kelly said: ``I have been listening all day to Jeffrey. He is advocating that unionists should try and close the Executive, wrap up the All-Ireland bodies and do away with the Assembly as it sits and turn it into a talking shop. This is not imaginative. Indeed, it is not even new. We had it before with the Forum, which Sinn Féin refused to be a part of, because it was a talking shop, and from which the SDLP also pulled out after a short time.
``Unionists need to stand up to the No men like Jeffrey Donaldson. The British Government and the unionists need to follow the example of the IRA's bold and pivotal step today.
``All sides have to fulfill their obligations. The Agreement has to be implemented in full. Deadlines and ultimatums must be avoided, and we must all work together to ensure the succes of the peace process.''