Sunday Life

**viewpoint #1

No movement on weapons

12 September 2004

Republican activists haven't been told to prepare to dump arms by IRA chiefs, in advance of this week's political negotiations at Leeds Castle.

Informed republican sources in south Armagh, say there has been no serious discussions between the IRA leadership and hardline activists in recent weeks about dumping weapons to facilitate a deal with the DUP.

"There has been no serious talk of it, and indeed the buzz around here is that Adams and McGuinness have told everyone to sit tight, because there's a lot more talking to do with the government and the DUP before they reach that stage," one South Armagh-based republican said.

"I haven't heard any serious suggestion, or picked up any anticipation, that the weapons issue will be resolved, in the Castle.

"It's expected to be discussed, but nobody's anticipating any hard and fast agreement.

"Adams and McGuinness would have to have the ingredients of a deal to sell to the IRA, and it might take the DUP some time to digest what republicans want and sell it to their supporters.

"There's certainly no serious suggestion that the boys will be getting their P45s before Christmas anyway", the source said.

The DUP's Lagan Valley MP, Jeffrey Donaldson, has played down suggestions that he could be one of two party representatives nominated to witness a major IRA act of weapons decommissioning.

"I certainly haven't been approached about such a proposition, and I haven't been told that any such proposal has been made.

"We do need to see the decommissioning of the rest of the IRA's weaponry, through proper verification procedures. "While there is a role for General de Chastelain, there has to be a greater transparency surrounding any further decommissioning exercise and less secrecy.

"The public must have total confidence in whatever procedure is proposed to verify the destruction of IRA weapons," he said.

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