[Mb-civic] IRA Disarms, Fulfilling Vow Made in July, Official Says
swiggard at comcast.net
Mon Sep 26 04:00:14 PDT 2005
IRA Disarms, Fulfilling Vow Made in July, Official Says
By Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, September 26, 2005; Page A01
LONDON, Sept. 25 -- The Irish Republican Army has scrapped its vast
arsenal of guns and explosives in a landmark step toward ending more
than three decades of political and religious violence in Northern
Ireland, according to a source close to the independent weapons
inspection commission that witnessed the disarmament process.
The weapons inspectors will report their findings Monday to the British
and Irish governments, said the official, who insisted on anonymity
because of the sensitivity of the issue. The disarmament, which the IRA
promised in a statement in July, was also confirmed by Martin
McGuinness, a senior member of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing.
"The IRA's decision on July 28th to formally end its armed campaign has
changed the political landscape in Ireland forever," McGuinness said in
a statement issued Sunday night. "I am confident that tomorrow will
bring the final chapter on the issue of IRA arms. I believe that Ireland
stands on the cusp of a truly historic advance, and I hope that people
across the island will respond positively in the time ahead."
The disarmament announcement, scheduled to be made at a news conference
Monday given by John de Chastelain, the retired Canadian general who
heads the weapons inspection commission, would be a historic
breakthrough in the conflict between majority Protestants and minority
Catholics that has killed more than 3,600 people since 1969. The British
and Irish governments hailed as momentous the IRA's July announcement
that it would disarm, but any such announcement is unlikely to
completely convince the province's majority Protestant community that
peace is at hand.
The disarmament, which officials said took place at secret locations in
the Republic of Ireland, was also witnessed by two members of the
clergy: the Rev. Harold Good, a former president of the Methodist Church
in Ireland, and the Rev. Alex Reid, a Catholic priest. They are also
expected to make a public statement Monday.
The Protestant side has cited the IRA's failure to disarm as the main
obstacle to full implementation of the landmark 1998 Good Friday peace
accords. British and Irish government officials hope that this step will
enable a power-sharing government to be reestablished in Belfast, the
Northern Ireland capital.
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