Tuesday, Apr 09, 2002
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By Hasan Suroor
In a statement, it said it had put a "substantial" amount of arms "beyond use" in a bid to "stabilise, sustain and strengthen" the peace process which started four years ago with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. The claim was confirmed by the independent international decommissioning body led by Gen. de Chastelain. "We have witnessed an event in which the IRA leadership has put a varied and substantial quantity of ammunition, arms and explosive material beyond use."
As on the occasion of the first phase last October, secrecy surrounded the type and amount of weapons that were destroyed. Nor was the location where the "event" took place disclosed. Though the move had been expected, yet when the announcement came, it caught the sceptics by surprise. The IRA proved wrong those of its critics who had been saying that its first act of decommissioning six months ago was a "one-off stunt" and not part of a process eventually leading to the destruction of IRA's entire armoury.
Gerry Adams, president of IRA's political arm, Sinn Fein, denied that it was a "gimmick" intended to coincide with elections in Ireland next month. "It has nothing to do with the elections," he said, describing the move as an evidence of IRA's "commitment" to the peace process. Calling it a "huge" move, he commended the IRA for taking a "unilateral initiative" despite what he described as the British Government's "failure" to fulfil several of its obligations under the Good Friday agreement. Police reforms and scaling down the British military presence in Northern Ireland were the two main areas where promises had not been kept. "The British Government has to see this (decommissioning) as another opportunity for it to fulfil its obligations," he said. A spokesman for the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, welcomed the IRA's move, as did the Northern Ireland Secretary, John Reid and the Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern.
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