SHOCK AS IRA PEACE OFFER IS REJECTED
Sinn Fein's president, Gerry Adams, has warned of dissent within
Provisional IRA circles over a republican offer to decommission
its entire arsenal and stand down as part of a new peace deal.
Mr Adams said that there was "huge trauma" within his movement
about the IRA offer, which was confirmed in a statement on
Thursday. It followed publication of a joint British-Irish
document aimed at a new agreement restoring power-sharing
government in Belfast.
On Wednesday, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, and British
Prime Minister Tony Blair, revealed the terms of the deal, which
stalled when the IRA refused to agree to a demand from the DUP's
Ian Paisley for photographs of its arms being destroyed.
In its statement on Thursday morning, the IRA said, prior to the
collapse of the deal, that it had decided to support a
comprehensive agreement -- which it said has the potential to
remove the causes of conflict -- by "moving into a new mode".
The IRA said it was determined "to see the transition to totally
If agreed, the proposals could mark a revolution for both Sinn
Fein and Ian Paisley's DUP. Sinn Fein would be required to
give its support to the long-despised police, while the DUP
would have to share power with its perceived arch-enemies.
Mr Paisley confirmed the deal would not be signed just hours
before Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern's news conference.
Mr Blair told the press conference: "I think there is an
inevitability about this process which is locked in. I can't see
this process going backward but I do know that it's going to
require extra effort to finish the journey."
Bertie Ahern said the governments had worked on the proposals
"We are not quite at that point of total success. Our work must
therefore continue to secure agreement and closure and what - by
any standards - is a huge, impressive, indeed a landmark
He added: "We believe at this point, after many months of
negotiation, our efforts will benefit from wider public
appraisal and that is why we are publishing our proposals."
TALKS GO ON
Talks are still continuing to find agreement on the proposals
outlined by the two governments, but they appear to have been
temporarily overwhelmed by the scale of the political fall-out.
Nevertheless, It is being widely argued that the talks will
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has challenged Mr Paisley to
face-to-face talks in a bid to rescue the peace deal. The DUP
has always refused direct talks with republicans.
Mr Adams warned that the marathon political process had reached
a defining moment.
He said: "I'm appealing to Ian Paisley today as a leader of
unionism, as a mandated political leader, to come and meet and
talk to me about all these issues.
"I'm appealing to everyone not to lose this defining moment in
the entire process, which some of us have worked a very long
time to bring about."
He said the IRA had made a "declaration of peace" which should
"Who wouldn't want to see the conclusion of the process to
completely and verifiably put all IRA arms beyond use?," he
In its statement, the IRA said demands for photographic proof of
weapons decommissioning were "never possible" and accused the
DUP of reducing the process to "an act of humiliation".
It said that Paisley's demand for a symbolic victory "was never
possible" and accused him of making the demand as an "excuse
his rejection of an overall agreement".
Mr Adams refused to focus on the issue of photographs and said
he wanted to stress the substantial progress that had been made
by moving the DUP to accepted the infrastructure of the 1998
Good Friday Agreement, including all-Ireland bodies and
Republicans were dismayed, however, that numerous key issues
such as British demilitarisation were not even mentioned in the
Mr Adams warned that demands for further concessions from
republicans could increase internal tensions.
He said: "There are people out there who have fought against the
British who are proud, rightly proud, to have fought against the
British, who have resisted attempts to criminalise and humiliate
"They are reading this and they don't like what they are being
But Mr Paisley has said his party is demanding "a full
photographic record" of the decommissioning process, and not
just one or two photographs.
"Another secret act of decommissioning will not satisfy the
public," he declared. "I believe the IRA's reaction is proof
that they cannot and will not be honest about the matter of