Government bid to find IRA arms list

28 November 2004
By Barry O'Kelly, Crime Correspondent

The government has approached associates of the IRA's former quartermaster general, seeking an inventory of its arms.

The informal approach was made within the last three weeks to associates of Michael McKevitt, the one-time leader of the Real IRA, according to informed republican sources. They have so far refused to provide any assistance about the location of the IRA's arms dumps.

The Sunday Business Post understands that the emissary, a respected public figure, made two approaches to members of the quartermaster's department in Dundalk. The emissary is not a politician. The request highlights the confusion surrounding the exact nature of the IRA's weapons stockpiles. McKevitt,who was convicted last year of directing terrorism, is the leading authority on the arsenal which he controlled until the 1997 ceasefire.

The Provisional IRA, meanwhile, is believed to be facing internal dissent over the pending final act of decommissioning.

A group of disaffected activists is expected to resign, including activists from brigades in east Tyrone, south Derry, north Louth and south Down.

They represent a minority of the mainstream republican movement, numbering somewhere between 50 and 100 activists.

But this newspaper understands that they include senior figures in the IRA hierarchy notably four people from the 12-member army executive, as well as the IRA quartermaster general.

In a statement to this paper, the disaffected IRA members, claiming to represent the views of border brigades, said: “The army was deeply divided in the aftermath of the notorious '97 [IRA] convention which resulted in the resignations of key military personnel.Today we stand on the brink of another serious split.

“Decommissioning, secret or otherwise, is the surrender of modern day IRA,and as volunteers we oppose it and call on volunteers across Ireland to oppose it.”

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