IRA MAKE PEACEFUL INTENTIONS KNOWN
It is a highly delicate time in the Irish peace process.
In an unpublished statement delivered to the Irish and British
governments, the IRA last night set out its intentions regarding
the Irish peace process.
The two governments are today studying the statement, which
details the IRA's current disposition, future intentions, and
attitude to a continuation of a process of putting its arms
In a statement simulateneously released to the media, the IRA
leadership said that following approaches from others [understood
to be Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness] it had
"closed" on the statement, which it was ready to issue publicly
in due course.
The statement confirms that intensive and serious negotiations
that are taking place between the IRA and the two governments,
with Sinn Fein negotiators serving as a conduit in the talks.
The move comes after a weekend of intense top-level contacts
between the two governments and the Northern parties in a bid to
break the deadlock holding up the full implementation of the Good
The governments are now being fervently urged to take the next
step by publishing their proposals for the implementation of the
Agreement. Such a move had been expected on Thursday, the fifth
anniversary of the Agreement, but a joint declaration by the
British and Irish Prime Ministers was dramatically postponed at
the last minute.
This led to fresh doubts and bitterness over what has been billed
as a potentially historic climax to five years of wrangling over
Republicans were again publicly berated and scapegoated by
predictable elements of the British and Irish media. Leaks and
spin by government sources caused considerable anger and
annoyance among republicans over the weekend.
However, the potential for a significant advance has now been
restored. But at the time of writing, there is still no certainty
that the governments are willing to take the next step. Reports
this morning indicated that London was seeking further
"clarification" of the IRA statement.
Should the two leaders accept the new statement and publish their
proposals, this would put the onus on Ulster Unionists to return
to a restored Belfast Assembly at Stormont in advance of an
election to the Assembly on May 29. However, some members of the
UUP has said they will not allow this unless the IRA
"disappears". A meeting of the UUP's ruling body, the Ulster
Unionist Council, could be called later this month to debate a
return to power-sharing.
The Sinn Fein leadership said at the weekend that the parties
discussions with the two governments on the measures needed to
implement the Agreement are now finished.
The party's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said there were
still critical issues which had yet to be properly dealt with -
sanctions, no timeframe for the transfer of power on policing and
justice, the suspension of the North's power-sharing institutions
and the lack of a commitment from the UUP on sustaining the
"But in reality the negotiations are concluded," he said. "There
is therefore no excuse, no rational reason for the governments
delaying the publication of the plan - their Joint Declaration -
setting out how they intend to fully implement the Good Friday in
all its aspects.
"Everyone can then respond to that - the political parties, the
unionists and ourselves, as well as the armed groups, including
Mr McGuinness pointed out that the Good Friday Agreement
guaranteed peoples' rights and entitlements.
"These are not concessions, to be given or withheld at the behest
or veto of anyone else, whether a government, a political party
or an armed group.
"The Good Friday Agreement is the property of the people - not
the governments and the people have a right to know how the
governments plan to implement the Agreement and how the rest of
us will respond to it."
Last night, Sinn Fein Assembly member and Mayor of Belfast Alex
Maskey added that the IRA move was "clearly an important
"The onus is now on the two governments to publish their Joint
Declaration," he said. "Sinn Fein would like to see all