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The Boston Globe OnlineBoston.com
Still Divided Northern Ireland's Uneasy Peace

IRA statement on Northern Ireland peace process

April 13, 2003

The leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann [IRA] takes this opportunity to give our view of the current phases of the peace process. In particular we want to address unionist concerns.

The political responsibility for advancing the current situation rests with the two governments, especially the British Government, and the leaderships of the political parties.

Accordingly, the IRA leadership have assessed commitments from the two governments and the UUP [Ulster Unionist Party].

The IRA has a genuine interest in building an enduring political process because we want to see the removal of the causes of the conflict in our country.

Although the Irish Republican Army is not a party to the Good Friday Agreement, we are disappointed that the Agreement has not been implemented.

We are disappointed also that the commitments in the joint declaration are conditional and protracted. Despite this we want to give them a fair wind.

Óglaigh na hÉireann supports the peace process. We want it to work. We affirm that our cessation is intact.

We are resolved to see the complete and final closure of this conflict. The IRA leadership is determined to ensure that our activities, disciplines and strategies will be consistent with this.

Furthermore, the full and irreversible implementation of the Agreement and other commitments will provide a context in which the IRA can proceed to definitively set aside arms to further our political objectives. When there is such a context this decision can be taken only by a General Army Convention representing all our volunteers.

We want to enhance the climate at all levels of society so that unionists and loyalists, nationalists and republicans, free from threats to their rights and safety, can engage together in community, political and other areas of co-operation and work.

The IRA poses no threat to the unionist people or to the peace process.

The IRA leadership reiterates our commitment to resolving the issue of arms. The commitments from the two governments, including the ending of the suspension of the political institutions, and the firm pledge by the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party that he will actively support the sustained working of the political institutions and other elements of the Good Friday Agreement, enables us to do this.

We have authorised our representative to meet with the IICD [Independent International Commission on Decommissioning] with a view to proceeding with the implementation of a process to put arms beyond use at the earliest opportunity. We have also authorised a third act of putting arms beyond use. This will be verified under the agreed scheme.

These initiatives are part of our ongoing contribution to the collective endeavour. The commitments made by the two governments and the UUP are a necessary part of this.

We support genuine efforts to build a just and peaceful future for all the people of this island. This is a collective task for all sections of society. Unionist political leaders have a special contribution to make.

We are Irish republicans. Our objective is a united Ireland. We are not unionists or British and no one should expect us to set aside our political objectives or our republicanism.

We do not claim to fully understand unionist perceptions. But we are prepared to listen and to learn. And we are committed to playing our part in creating the conditions in which unionists, nationalists and republicans can live together peacefully.

Building the collective trust to achieve this is a huge challenge for everyone. Given the experience of nationalists and republicans during the decades of conflict and before, this is a particular challenge for us. It is also a challenge for unionists and the British Government.

Much hurt has been inflicted by British Government policy, by successive British Governments and by the old unionist regime. Great pain has been caused by the British army, the RUC and loyalist paramilitaries. Irish republicans and nationalists have a proud and honourable record of resistance against these forces. We know unionists do not see it like that.

We are also conscious that non-combatants were killed and injured as a consequence of some of our actions. We offer our sincere apologies and condolences to their families and friends.

The IRA is committed to supporting every effort to make conflict a thing of the past. To this end the IRA leadership has previously authorised a series of unprecedented initiatives to enhance the search for a lasting peace.

On occasions these have been undervalued or dismissed. Despite this, we are persisting in our endeavours. The initiatives outlined in this statement involve further substantive and additional contributions by the IRA.

Both governments - and unionists and republicans alike - have now an opportunity which cannot and should not be wasted.

P O'Neill,
Irish Republican Publicity Bureau, Dublin