IRA weapons to build U.S. "peace fountain"
Fri 9 January, 2004 17:46

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Weapons confiscated from the IRA in recent decades and destroyed by Irish police are to be melted down and shipped to the United States to help build a "peace fountain".

The firearms, which included heavy sub-machine guns, Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles and rocket launchers, were seized during investigations into paramilitary and criminal activities mostly between the 1980s and mid-1990s, police said.

"The bulk of the weapons -- 95 percent -- were seized from paramilitaries and by far the great majority of them from the Provisional IRA," police spokesman Brendan McArdle told Reuters.

Around 800 firearms were destroyed at a secret location in Dublin on Friday -- the last of thousands of confiscated weapons dismantled by police in recent years.

The fragments will be melted down and sent to Ohio to help make a peace fountain there that will be dedicated to the reduction of global violence. It is due to be finished on the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities.

The project will also gather metal fragments from illegal weapons seized in other countries, including Britain.

"It's a truly international effort," said the fountain's American designer Michael Whitely, accompanying a group of Ohio police officers to Dublin to oversee the destruction of the weapons.

The IRA has scrapped at least three batches of its illegal arsenal since October 2001 but retains a substantial stockpile hidden in secret arms dumps mainly in the Irish Republic.

Most of the weapons destroyed on Friday would have been among shipments smuggled from Libya in the 1980s, McArdle said.

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