Sunday Life

**And as the brits sing "What a Friend We Have in Gerry..."

DUP 'to witness IRA arms destroyed'

15 August 2004

The IRA is set to break with decades of tradition - by allowing the DUP to witness the destruction of Provo arms and explosives, according to reports last night.

In what is described as an "unprecedented" move, the IRA will ask the DUP to nominate two representatives to accompany retired Canadian General, John De Chastelain, to oversee a "significant act" of decommissioning.

Two senior members of the republican movement would also attend.

It is understood the IRA is planning to destroy a major quantity of arms and explosives in advance of next month's talks at Leeds Castle.

The talks - aimed at restoring devolved government to the province - will involve the British and Irish premiers and representatives of all Northern Ireland's political parties.

Republican sources said involving the DUP in the next act of decommissioning had been "carefully thought-out".

Said one senior republican source: "In the past, the DUP refused to accept IRA or the decommissioning body's statements on the destruction of weapons.

"By witnessing IRA weapons being destroyed, the DUP have to accept decommissioning has taken place.

"If the DUP refuses the IRA's offer, the party's commitment to the political process will be called into question."

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