Provo calendar images ‘depict terror’

20 December 2004
By Niall Murray

UNIONISTS have accused the IRA of continuing to promote terrorism, at a time when its political representatives claim the provisionals are ready to decommission, after pictures in a republic calendar show masked gunmen in recent training exercises.
The photographs are on sale in the 2005 Republic Resistance Calendar in Sinn Féin’s headquarters in Belfast. The premises on the Falls Road houses the offices of Gerry Adams and other party leaders, who appeared close to agreeing a historic power-sharing deal with Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) earlier this month.

One of the main stumbling blocks which has pushed hopes of a breakthrough back into the New Year was the DUP’s insistence that any decommissioning of IRA weapons stockpiles should be photographed and the pictures published, a condition which was unacceptable to the Republican leadership.

But DUP Assembly member Paul Berry has described the availability of such photographs as a worrying development.

“It is scandalous that this is coming at a time when the IRA is running scared of photographs of decommissioning because they claim that is humiliation,” he said.

“This shows that they are continuing to promote their terrorist organisation and aren’t afraid to show these pictures,” said Mr Berry.

The photographs depict men wearing balaclavas and combat uniforms, on what appear like staged countryside training exercises. A number of the pictures, show the gunmen holding their weapons aloft and punching the air triumphantly in a gesture which gives the appearance of celebrating victory.

A more politically acceptable calendar, depicting various historic photographs from the Easter Rising through to the hunger strikes of the 1980s, and more recent political advances, is available openly on the Sinn Féin website under the title, Sinn Féin - 100 Years of Resistance.

After the recent breakdown of political talks, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair look set to wait until January before trying to bring Northern Ireland’s political parties back to negotiations.

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