[Sinn Fein]

23rd October 2001

Ó Caoláin commends IRA decision

Sinn Fein Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has welcomed the initiative of the IRA. He said:

``Not for the first time the Irish Republican Army has taken a very courageous and historic initiative to save the Irish peace process. I welcome this development and commend the IRA leadership and its rank and file Volunteers for their bravery and genuine commitment to the achievement of justice and lasting peace in our country.

``It must be remembered that the IRA is not a party to the Good Friday Agreement. Long before today's developments Sinn Fein had fully complied with the requirements of the Agreement with regard to decommissioning. The IRA repeatedly stretched itself in order to facilitate progress in the peace process. Once more the IRA has responded positively and has taken this extremely difficult decision.

``This development will cause difficulties for many sincere republicans. I share their concerns. In recent weeks and months we have seen many in the political and media establishment in Ireland and Britain attempting to place the responsibility for the impasse in the peace process and, by extension for years of conflict, on the IRA. Republicans utterly reject that view.

``Political nay-sayers and their media fellow travellers focussed on the silent weapons of the IRA while the loyalist pipe bomb campaign intensified, while schoolchildren were terrorised in North Belfast and while British militarisation of the Six Counties continued. In spite of all this republicans have shown themselves once more to be the driving force of this peace process.

``The British government, the unionists and the Irish government must respond comprehensively and without delay. The Good Friday Agreement must be implemented in full. We must move forward towards real and fundamental change that will serve the real interests of all who share this island.''

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