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Thursday, April 30, 1998 Published at 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK

IRA breaks silence on peace deal
image: [ Guarded welcome by IRA ]
Guarded welcome by IRA

The IRA has welcomed the Northern Ireland peace agreement as a significant development. But it said it fell short of presenting a solid basis for a lasting settlement.

In its first statement on the agreement, the IRA commended the efforts of its political wing, Sinn Fein, in the negotiations.

Statement in full:

"The leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann (the IRA) have considered carefully the Good Friday document.

"It remains our position that a durable peace settlement demands the end of British rule in Ireland and the exercise of the right of the people of Ireland to national self-determination.

"Viewed against our republican objective, or any democratic analysis, this document clearly falls short of presenting a solid basis for a lasting settlement.

"In our view, the two imminent referenda do not constitute the exercise of self-determination and voters' attitudes to the referenda should be guided by their own view and the advice of their political leaders.

"However, the Good Friday document does mark a significant development. But whether or not this heralds a transformation of the situation is dependent totally on the will of the British Government. Accordingly, we will carefully monitor the situation.

"There appears to be yet another attempt to resurrect the (arms) decommissioning issue as an obstacle to progress.

"The IRA commitment to assisting the search for peace and justice is a matter of public record. This commitment remains.

"Let us make it clear there will be no decommissioning by the IRA.

"This issue, as with any other matter affecting the IRA, its functions and objectives, is a matter only for the IRA, to be decided upon and pronounced upon by us.

"We are mindful of our responsibilities and of the need for continued vigilance during these challenging times.

"We are aware, also, of those who will resist any dynamic for change. They need to face up to the reality that peace demands, justice, equality and national rights for the people of Ireland.

"We commend the efforts of Sinn Fein. They can be confident of our desire to see all republicans engage in their decision-making process at this time in a constructive and positive way.

"We wish Sinn Fein further success in the development of their peace strategy. It remains clear that movement towards a lasting peace is a shared responsibility of all political leaders.

"We face the future united, committed and dedicated to the struggle for Irish unity and independence."

In line with tradition, the IRA statement was signed with the name "P O'Neill".

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