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Sunday, April 12, 1998 Published at 22:10 GMT 23:10 UK




Decommissioning in the summer - Ahern
image: [ Bertie Ahern with Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness ]
Bertie Ahern with Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness

The Irish Premier Bertie Ahern has predicted that the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons in Northern Ireland will begin within months.

Mr Ahern said he believed both republican and loyalist groups would agree to dispose of weapons stockpiles once their communities reaped the benefits of peace, including the release of their prisoners.

Speaking in an RTE Irish radio interview, Mr Ahern said decommissioning, which is included in the peace blueprint agreed on Friday, would begin "later this summer".

He said a lot of work would be needed to agree how weapons will be disposed off but as prisoners returned home there would be "support for the democratic position".

Ahern attacks US groups

Mr Ahern also rounded on US-backed newspaper adverts taken out last week which called for the settlement talks to be scrapped.

The adverts could influence republican voters in both parts of Ireland as fringe groups on both sides of the divide seek to scupper the peace blueprint.

The Taoiseach said the groups which had paid for the adverts may as well have signed them off with: "Therefore we want to see a continuation of violence."

He said: "If you want to spend large amounts of money and let on that there's easy solutions, then you're a hypocrite.

"If you want to say you don't want to see any change, then you should say really what that view stands for, that you believe in the continuation of violence.

"If people want the continuation of violence they can go for it towards the end of May in the referendum. I don't."

He added: "The people here will be voting for the agreement. This is the new way forward. This is going to be a serious vote about a serious issue.

"I would have confidence that the Irish people will come out and vote for democratic politics."

Irish-American groups


[ image: Galvin: banned from the UK]
Galvin: banned from the UK
Irish America is the home of many republican organisations which offer support and fund raise for groups based in Northern Ireland.

The groups are largely based on the Eastern seaboard in cities such as Boston and New York.

One of the most controversial of these is Noraid, founded after the start of the Troubles in 1969.

It maintains it raises funds for humanitarian causes in Northern Ireland and distributes resources through Sinn Fein.

But the British Government and some US officials have openly accused Noraid of being a front organisation for the IRA. Noraid's leader, Martin Galvin, was banned from the UK in the 1980s.








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