DUP 'must clarify' position

Alex Maskey has urged the DUP to clarify its position

Sinn Fein has challenged the Democratic Unionist Party to clarify its position on Gerry Adams' latest remarks about the IRA.

Alex Maskey of Sinn Fein said the DUP had sent out mixed signals after Mr Adams said republicans, in the right conditions, should be prepared to remove the IRA and the issue of IRA arms as an excuse for unionists to block progress.

The issue of ongoing paramilitary activity remains a major obstacle to restoring devolution with Northern Ireland's largest party, the Democratic Unionists, adamant that the IRA must wind down if they are ever to share power with Sinn Fein.

Mr Adams' remarks last Thursday were initially rejected by Ian Paisley Junior who said "actions rather than words" were what was needed from republicans.

However, senior DUP sources on Friday described the comments as "an interesting move, albeit only a beginning".

Mr Maskey said he would like to know what the DUP's position was.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Maskey said: "I think it's fair to say that publicly and privately they 're doing different things, they're saying different things.

"On the one hand, they're presenting themselves as rational and reasonable, perhaps, and on the other hand they are actually setting the bar still too high in my opinion."

Mr Adams' remarks are being seen as a "clear signal" he is preparing his supporters for the day when the IRA "may leave the stage", according to BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent Gareth Gordon.

He said Ian Paisley junior was the first, and so far only, DUP figure to react on the record to the comments saying his party wanted conclusive decommissioning, not what he termed 'waffle or condescension' from Gerry Adams.

Gareth Gordon added: "It's clear others in the DUP are more receptive to his remarks.

"So far, no other DUP politician has spoken publicly, but senior sources say that what Mr Adams said should not be dismissed.

"Their tone is significantly different to Ian Paisley junior's".

The political institutions in the province were suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the Northern Ireland Office.

In a BBC interview on Thursday, Mr Adams said he did not see the IRA being removed of its own volition but only as part of an "ongoing process of sustainable change".

He said the republican leadership would only be empowered to move if there was a context in which they could make progress.

He said if there was not such a process then there "would be great difficulties".

Intensive negotiations are set to take place in September in an attempt to get devolution restored in Northern Ireland.

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