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Northern Ireland: IRA orders end to armed campaign

The leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann has formally ordered an end to the armed campaign. This will take effect from 4pm this afternoon, 28. July 2005

The following historic statement was issued by Óglaigh na hÉireann, the Irish Republican Army, today, Thursday 28 July 2005. All IRA units have been ordered to dump arms. All Volunteers have been instructed to assist the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means. Volunteers must not engage in any other activities whatsoever.

The IRA leadership has also authorised our representative to engage with the IICD to complete the process to verifiably put its arms beyond use in a way which will further enhance public confidence and to conclude this as quickly as possible. We have invited two independent witnesses, from the Protestant and Catholic churches, to testify to this. The Army Council took these decisions following an unprecedented internal discussion and consultation process with IRA units and Volunteers.

We appreciate the honest and forthright way in which the consultation process was carried out and the depth and content of the submissions. We are proud of the comradely way in which this truly historic discussion was conducted. The outcome of our consultations show very strong support among IRA Volunteers for the Sinn Féin peace strategy. There is also widespread concern about the failure of the two governments and the unionists to fully engage in the peace process. This has created real difficulties. The overwhelming majority of people in Ireland fully support this process. They and friends of Irish unity throughout the world want to see the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Notwithstanding these difficulties our decisions have been taken to advance our republican and democratic objectives, including our goal of a united Ireland. We believe there is now an alternative way to achieve this and to end British rule in our country. It is the responsibility of all Volunteers to show leadership, determination and courage. We are very mindful of the sacrifices of our patriot dead, those who went to jail, Volunteers, their families and the wider republican base. We reiterate our view that the armed struggle was entirely legitimate.

We are conscious that many people suffered in the conflict. There is a compelling imperative on all sides to build a just and lasting peace. The issue of the defence of nationalist and republican communities has been raised with us. There is a responsibility on society to ensure that there is no re-occurrence of the pogroms of 1969 and the early 1970s. There is also a universal responsibility to tackle sectarianism in all its forms. The IRA is fully committed to the goals of Irish unity and independence and to building the Republic outlined in the 1916 Proclamation.

We call for maximum unity and effort by Irish republicans everywhere. We are confident that by working together Irish republicans can achieve our objectives. Every Volunteer is aware of the import of the decisions we have taken and all Óglaigh are compelled to fully comply with these orders. There is now an unprecedented opportunity to utilise the considerable energy and goodwill which there is for the peace process. This comprehensive series of unparalleled initiatives is our contribution to this and to the continued endeavours to bring about independence and unity for the people of Ireland.

Comment of Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Fein

"Seize this moment ... Make Irish freedom a reality" - Gerry Adams

As we go to press An Phoblacht spoke to Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams on today's historic developments. Mr Adams said: "Today's decision by the IRA to move into a new peaceful mode is historic and represents a courageous and confident initiative. It is a truly momentous and defining point in the search for a lasting peace with justice. I commend the commitment of those who have taken this decision and I appeal for unity and solidarity among all Irish republicans on the island of Ireland and beyond and for the struggle to be carried forward with new energy and enthusiasm.

The IRA decision presents an unparalleled challenge and opportunity for every nationalist and republican. "There is an enormous responsibility on us to seize this moment and to make Irish freedom a reality. I would urge all Irish nationalists and republicans, including those who have shown such commitment over the years as Volunteers of the IRA to put their undoubted talents and energy into building a new Ireland. Today's IRA initiative also presents challenges for others. It places a clear onus on the British and Irish Governments to fully and faithfully implement the Good Friday Agreement. In particular this means an end to pandering to those unionists who are rejectionist and the British Government must urgently address the demilitarisation, equality and human rights agendas.

It means the Irish Government actively promoting the rights and entitlements of all of its citizens, including those in the North. It means that unionists who are for the Good Friday Agreement must end their ambivalence. And it is a direct challenge to the DUP to decide if they want to put the past behind them, and make peace with the rest of the people of this island. Today's IRA statement can help revive the Peace Process; it deals with genuine unionist concerns and removes from the leadership of unionism its excuse for non-engagement. Republicans will not be surprised that our opponents will continue to try to defeat us. Initiatives by the IRA are unlikely to change, in the short-term, the attitude of those who oppose us whether in London or Dublin or within unionism. We can expect this to continue until we succeed in our endeavours.

Today's statement by the IRA is clear evidence of the commitment of republicans to the Peace Process. The question now is whether the two governments and the unionists are prepared to take up the challenge of building the necessary next steps to a just and peaceful future. The road map is clear. Sinn Féin is a party looking forward. We have a vision of a new future, a better future, and we have the spirit and the confidence to work with others to achieve this. Irish republicans and nationalists are now in a new area of struggle. There is a role for everyone in this new situation. Let us move forward together to re-build the Peace Process and deliver Irish unity and independence."

Commenting on the release of Seán Kelly, Gerry Adams said: "I welcome the release of Seán Kelly. There are other prisoners who continue to be held, including those qualifying prisoners held in Castlerea. Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for their speedy release."

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