Irish Independent

**Glad we finally got it sorted about what's important and what's not

Provo old boys will surrender arms but not name

THE PROVISIONAL IRA is being allowed to retain its name after disarmament to prevent the republican mantle being taken over by renegades.

The Irish and British governments fear that Provisional disbandment would create a vacuum that would be filled by one of the main dissident groups and increase the likelihood of violence on the streets again.

Instead it is expected that the IRA will remain as a disciplined organisation which has abandoned its paramilitary and criminal activities but will be allowed to act as an old comrades' association that could issue statements and hold commemorative events.

The belief is that the leadership of such an organisation would prevent disaffected members from returning to violence and would keep the main body of the republican movement united behind its push for a political rather than a paramilitary solution.

The alternative - total disbandment of the Provisionals - opens up the possibility of large-scale defections to either the Real IRA or the Continuity IRA and the emergence of a new campaign of violence on both sides of the Border and in Britain, funded from quarters that were traditionally loyal to the Provisionals.

But the governments are insisting that transforming themselves into an old comrades' outfit must mean full disarmament and an end to all paramilitary activities.

Negotiators came away from the Leeds Castle talks in Kent at the weekend in the belief that such a scenario was now on the table, with the republican movement willing to make a major act of decommissioning shortly by agreeing to provide proof of how much of the arsenal has been destroyed and set out a timetable for the removal of the rest of the weaponry from circulation.

Speculation continued to increase in Belfast last night that an IRA statement pushing forward the peace process was imminent, but observers in Dublin and London were more cautious after studying the demands laid down by all participants in the talks - in particular, the Democratic Unionist Party.

The DUP's insistence on the right to a majority veto on actions taken by individual ministers could frustrate the efforts that have been made in recent weeks to negotiate a deal on key republican sticking points.

One source said last night: "Every piece that is needed to put the deal together under the terms laid out in the Good Friday Agreement is on the table. But nobody knows if and when those pieces will be moved into the right positions to form the deal. One wrong move and it could fall apart."

Talks to resolve the outstanding issues will resume at Stormont today.

Tom Brady
Security Editor

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