RTE News

Govts playing down statement says IRA

03 February 2005 20:24

The IRA has accused the British and Irish governments of trying to play down the importance of its statement, withdrawing its offer to decommission weapons.

In a second statement issued to RTÉ News this evening, the organisation said the crisis in the peace process is serious and the situation should not be underestimated.

Speaking on RTÉ News, the Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen, said there is no role for paramilitaries in modern Ireland and that the essence of republicanism is to agree with the will of the people.

The Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, said the latest IRA statement is 'tantamount to a threat against the Irish people and its state'.

The Labour Party leader, Pat Rabbitte, described the latest IRA statement as a sinister development.

The Green Party leader, Trevor Sargent, described the latest statement as hardline and said its language and tone was extremely intimidating.

The new two-line statement came as the report of the Independent Monitoring Commission into the Northern Bank raid in Belfast was delivered to the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell.

The report will be considered by the Government at a Cabinet meeting next Tuesday.

The North's Chief Constable Hugh Orde has told the Policing Board that the IRA is not on the verge of a return to all-out violence despite withdrawing its offer to decommission.

That assessment was backed by the Northern Secretary, Paul Murphy.

Taoiseach plays down IRA statement

Earlier, the Taoiseach said he did not view last night's statement from the IRA in a negative fashion.

Bertie Ahern said the Irish and British governments would continue to engage with all the political parties to try and find the resolution to the present crisis.

However, he repeated that there must be a firm commitment from the republican movement to an end to criminality and to deal with the issue of decommissioning in a transparent way.

The Taoiseach refused to be drawn on remarks by Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness on RTÉ Radio this morning in which Mr McGuinness accused Mr Ahern of being a poodle for Michael McDowell and the Progressive Democrats.

The Taoiseach said Mr McGuinness is a good negotiator for his party, but he added that Fianna Fáil had not robbed the Northern Bank. Issues have been raised and questions have to be answered, said Mr Ahern.

At the Order of Business in the Dáil this morning, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the IRA statement was an affront to Irish people North and South.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte described the comments from the IRA as petulant, belligerent and somewhat threatening.

IRA withdraws offer to complete disarmament

In a strongly worded statement last night, the republican paramilitary group said it was withdrawing its offer to complete the decommissioning process.

The statement, which was released to the republican newspaper, An Phoblacht, is seen as a response to criticism of the organisation in the wake of the Northern Bank raid.

The raid has been blamed on the IRA by both the British and Irish governments.

The IRA claimed that in December 2004 it was prepared to speedily resolve the issue of arms and move into a new mode where its activities would no longer endanger a comprehensive peace agreement.

However, it said its initiatives had been attacked, devalued and dismissed by pro-unionist and anti-republican elements, including the British government.

The IRA said the Irish Government has lent itself to these attacks on the republican movement.

The paramilitary organisation went on to say it does not intend to remain quiescent to what it called 'this unacceptable situation'.

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