ic NorthernIreland - Splits in Provos Reported

Splits in Provos Reported --Oct 27 2003

INTERNAL wrangling over decommissioning is threatening to split the IRA apart, republican and Garda sources have said.

As the war of words between the UUP and Sinn Fein rumbled on yesterday over last week's failed peace negotiations, mounting pressure within the Provo ranks was threatening to boil over.

Some Dublin newspapers have reported that IRA members in the hardline areas of south Londonderry, south Armagh and east Tyrone are openly warning that they cannot accept the republican movement's current direction.

Many are said to be incensed at how far the IRA moved on decommissioning last week, only to have the act rejected by unionists.

Republican sources said that the Sinn Fein leadership had been '' outmanoeuvred'' by the UUP.

Garda Special Branch sources have said there is growing evidence of an IRA split.

Meanwhile, speculation over how much the IRA decommissioned last week has produced a consensus that somewhere in the region of 100 tonnes of arms was destroyed, including guns, explosives, heavy mortars, heavy machine-guns and surface-to-air missiles.

It is even being estimated that the IRA may have decommissioned up to a third of its weaponry in three acts of disarmament.

However, while the Provos have put some weapons beyond use, a leading UVF commander said yesterday that his organisation has no intention of handing in its guns.

In the Observer newspaper, the UVF leader said the group has enough armoury to equip at least 1,000 men.

But there was ''virtually no chance'' of decommissioning any of it in the current climate.

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