23 October 2001
Sinn Fein welcomes IRA statement
Speaking after this evening's IRA statement on the arms issue Sinn Fein Assembly member Gerry Kelly said:
"Sinn Fein welcomes this development. It is hugely significant and will be welcomed by those who support the peace process both here and further afield.
"The IRA has taken a courageous initiative to save the peace process.
"This can only be seen as further tangible evidence of the IRA's commitment to the peace process and should be responded to in that manner. This initiative will, in my view, free up all supporters of the Good Friday Agreement to build momentum into the process.
"Peace making, we know, is a very difficult task but this initiative has the capacity to rekindle the hope, vision and expectation of the Good Friday Agreement. It is now up to those with the political responsibility to capitalise on this new situation and show conclusively that politics can work."
IRA arms statement in full
This is the full text of the IRA's statement announcing that is has made an unprecendented move to dispose of weaponry.
The IRA is committed to our republican objectives and to the establishment of a united Ireland based on justice, equality and freedom.
In August 1994, against a backdrop of lengthy and intensive discussions involving the two governments and others, the leadership of the IRA called a complete cessation of military operations in order to create the dynamic for a peace process.
'Decommissioning' was no part of that. There was no ambiguity about this.
Unfortunately there are those within the British Establishment and the leadership of unionism who are fundamentally opposed to change.
At every opportunity they have used the issue of arms as an excuse to undermine and frustrate progress.
It was for this reason that decommissioning was introduced to the process by the British Government. It has been used since to prevent the changes which a lasting peace requires.
In order to overcome this and to encourage the changes necessary for a lasting peace the leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann has taken a number of substantial initiatives.
These include our engagement with the IICD [decommissioning body] and the inspection of a number of arms dumps by the two International Inspectors, Cyril Ramaphosa and Martti Ahtisaari.
No one should doubt the difficulties these initiatives cause for us, our volunteers and our support base.
The Political process is now on the point of collapse.
Such a collapse would certainly and eventually put the overall peace process in jeopardy.
There is a responsibility upon everyone seriously committed to a just peace to do our best to avoid this.
Therefore, in order to save the peace process we have implemented the scheme agreed with the IICD in August.
Our motivation is clear.
This unprecedented move is to save the peace process and to persuade others of our genuine intentions. Signed: P O'Neill.
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