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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
NI: What next for the peace process?
In a major blow to the Northern Ireland peace process the IRA has said it is withdrawing its proposed scheme for putting arms beyond use.

The move comes only five days after the IRA confirmed it had agreed a "satisfactory" plan with the decommissioning body.

In its statement, the IRA blamed the Ulster Unionist leadership for rejecting their proposals on the arms issue, and said the conditions "did not exist" to carry out the plan.

Unionists, who said they rejected the decommissioning scheme because no timescale was agreed, condemned the latest IRA statement as another "stuttering excuse for not fulfilling their commitments".

What does this mean for the peace process in Northern Ireland? Can the deadlock over paramilitary weapons ever be broken?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Removing political parties that refuse to give up private armies would be upholding the Good Friday agreement not - as Sean, UK, suggests - abandoning it. The victims of Enniskillen etc. include the families of those murdered, and Sean incorrectly presumes that none of these victims consider the current process to have become a farce. It boggles the mind that the memory of those murdered by the IRA should be invoked to justify the retaining of arms by this loathsome organisation.
Alan Murphy, USA

I honestly feel that the IRA will disarm

Alan Loftus, England
The IRA's withdrawal of its disarmament plan is just one move in the ongoing game of hard-ball with the government. As to where we go now, it depends upon your view of whose move it is next. I honestly feel that the IRA will disarm, but not before the British Army has gone home, Special Branch is disbanded and the police force is controlled by locally elected officials. All of these ideas have merit in the eyes of the nationalist electorate, so there is no pressure from that quarter for the IRA to move. This leaves the ball squarely in the government's court, so come on Tony, do the right thing.
Alan Loftus, England

Decommissioning is the excuse the Unionists use for blocking the peace process. (It would only be a gesture anyway, because the IRA could always rearm.) The Unionists block the process because they would lose their present position of privilege. Those who think that decommissioning is all-important have been taken in by biased media material.
Jo, Leatherhead, UK

Sinn Fein/IRA have given back nothing

Joe Elliot, UK
In response to Tim M's post, the loyalists have handed over a token gesture of weapons that were publicly destroyed. The Government have cut the number of troops in NI, closed down several bases and removed the troops from regularly patrolling the streets, only being used to reinforce the police in trouble spots. There are Catholics in the RUC and army. However Sinn Fein/IRA just keep harping on with the usual excuses, it's not enough etc etc. They have given back nothing, not one single bullet. This is what has led to the Unionists' frustration.

Until the Republican minority get rid of their hard-done-by chip on their shoulder, realise that they have to give something, stop blaming everyone else and accept some of the responsibility, there is no peace process and never has been.
Joe Elliot, UK

A lot more goes on here than you get to see

EmJay, Northern Ireland
I have a comment for all the people who are telling the locals to 'just speak up' with their opinions. I'm sure that anyone in N.I. will tell you that people in the rest of the world can only build their opinions on what the media presents to you - a lot more goes on here than you get to see. Yes, you get to hear about the major 'breakthroughs' and larger-scale (newsworthy) violence, but there is violence here every single day, whether it is an attack on a single man or the pipe-bombing of a family home.

Do your research before you pass judgement on people for not speaking up, because you would then understand that speaking up is not always a sensible thing to do. I am part of a military family living here in NI, and I am forbidden from entering almost one half of Belfast city because it would endanger myself and my family. Do you really think I'll be telling the IRA what I think of them?
EmJay, N.I.

Some of the more laughable comments made on this site are the ones suggesting England walk away from this drawn out N.I. problem. Do you people know your own history? You started this mess. These are the sins of your fathers. There is no walking away from this one like there was in America, Africa, India, Middle East, Falklands, etc. Northern Ireland demographics predict a nationalist majority in the next ten years whether the unionists agree to a peaceful solution or not. They were just another group of pawns used by dear old mother England to build an empire built on bullying and deceit. This time there's no walking away. It's time to pay the piper.
Brian, USA

The obituaries for the peace process are premature

Sean, UK
I do agree that decommissioning is a red herring - the IRA could rearm at any time - and in any case, for the Army Council to sanction decommissioning now, before progress on the real issues of governing a future Northern Ireland had been made and at a time when direct rule has and could be re-introduced again, would be perceived by nationalists as a humiliating surrender and a betrayal to its history and people.

Calls for ditching the GFA and implementing some kind of military crackdown only play into the hands of extremists on both sides by obliterating any hope of peace once and for all. Surely we owe it to the victims of Enniskillen, Omagh and Bloody Sunday to keep all parties negotiating around this current impasse rather than abandoning everything in a knee-jerk reaction?
Sean, UK

The whole peace process has become a farce

Alan Murphy, USA
The whole peace process has become a farce. I am amazed at the amount of energy spent on this page and elsewhere trying to justify the presence of armed terrorists in a democratic government. Blair should keep his promise and not allow the political representatives of any group that has not disarmed and renounced all use of violence, as required by the agreement, to remain in government. If that causes the assembly to fail, the government should return to London. If that causes terrorists to resume killing, they should be arrested and imprisoned. Nothing more needs to be said about this subject.
Alan Murphy, USA

Matthew Short has a very idealistic view. However, I should remind him that if the British completely pull out of Northern Ireland, it will erupt into a blood-bath with both armed sides degenerating into civil war. I am English and I have family there and I don't want to wake up one day to the fact that they have been shot in the head thank you very much.
Richard, UK

It's rather ironic that the Brits will be taking part in a Nato mission to disarm Albanian rebels in Macedonia when they can't even disarm a private army in their own country!
Peter Nelson, USA

Patriotism is dying as are those who use it for their own twisted purposes

Pierre, England
Mac from Dundee hit the right note. Patriotism is dying as are those who use it for their own twisted purposes. We're all part of Europe and the sooner younger people from both "sides" ignore the ridiculous divide installed by their elders, the better life will become for them. To help the process, the UK should get out and leave them to it.
Pierre, England

The saga continues........
Paul, USA

This is not a good sign. It means that the troubles in Northern Ireland are likely to persist. And, if that is true then a good opportunity has been lost for all concerned. We have seen the end result of the absence of President Bill Clinton from the international peace process. War is breaking out in the Holy Land, Ireland, and all over the globe. The good leadership of Mr Clinton is sadly missed by all.
Dave Adams, USA

The current spat is all hot air and froth

Mark Stewart, England
The current spat is all hot air and froth. We are making good progress. There are plans for demilitarisation, policing reform and decommissioning. OK the IRA plan is not on the table but it will go back on in time, just you wait. We have never had plans before so we are making progress, and progress is progress.
Mark Stewart, England

The news from Colombia illustrates that the IRA is no longer some romantic local Irish freedom fighting group, but part of a world-wide drug-related terrorist network. It's time that ordinary civilians in Ireland who aren't IRA members, but who support and protect them, realise that under the pretext of Irish history, they are actually contributing to the misery and deaths of ordinary people throughout Central America, the inner cities of the western world and in Ireland itself. Every time a young Irish life is destroyed through drugs, the IRA is the main force behind it.
Jon Livesey, USA

The Good Friday Agreement has never been anything more than a fig-leaf to cover the failure of the Government to get meaningful agreement. Now it is finally falling off.
Brian W, UK

Terrorism in Northern Ireland is now a multi-million pound business

Jason, England/Eire
Whilst there may be a "peace" with the ending of bomb attacks, Northern Ireland will never be free of violence. On both sides, the original reason for the founding of the IRA, UFF etc., namely religion, reunification etc. have been lost. Terrorism in Northern Ireland is now a multi-million pound business, armed robberies, drug dealing and various forms of smuggling, give power and wealth to individuals, not to any cause. Without their guns, they become nothing, therefore, any attempt at disarming all weapons will fail as these "terrorists" don't want to loose the power to which they have become accustomed.

Look at the punishment beatings that have continued since the ceasefire. The terrorists continue to exercise a control over their respective communities that is comparable to the Krays in the 60's in London's East End. They won't want to give up this control, and in order to retain it, they have to retain, at least some of the weapons. Gerry Adams and David Trimble may think they are the voice for a "movement" but in reality they are little more than a blanket cover for criminals!
Jason, England/Eire

As with the Unionists' continual throwing of toys out of prams, it means that Northern Ireland is effectively leaderless. No one has the courage to "go the extra mile" for peace. The Unionists apparently believe that the current situation, however unsatisfactory, is no better than the days of violence. The Republicans apparently still believe, despite all the evidence, that owning weapons gives them some kind of advantage. This situation will never change until someone on one side or the other grows up and starts taking some responsibility for matters, instead of just looking where they can push the blame.
David Hazel, UK

Eire doesn't want Northern Ireland, they can't afford the financial let alone social burden. Similarly I imagine many Catholics talk about a united Ireland, but what will they do when the comfort of the welfare system is withdrawn by London? I cannot see a solution. What I can see are a small group of individuals on both sides perpetuating the troubles for their own political/financial gain.

If these people insist they are at war with the establishment, then lets introduce martial law. Surely they do not deserve the protection of the civil laws they hold in such contempt. The only reason they negotiated in the first place was because the security forces had their backs to the wall, why do you think they are so insistent on dismantling the intelligence services in Northern Ireland. If they will not see sense, then surely they must see the end of their days.
John D, UK

The idea by Mathew Short is quite amusing - which U.N. force was ever successful without British troops? I served in N.I. in 1972 and it was quite obvious to me we were dealing with gangsters and the sooner these politicians start treating them as such and take action accordingly the better. Bring back the death penalty, ok you will get human rights people with their dreamy view but as my sergeant major said we meet violence with violence. The British troops are the finest in the world but the people they protect are not of their calibre. Show some appreciation and back them to a man.
Douglas Kay, U.S.A.(English)

Calling for IRA disarmament is meaningless: The IRA have never disarmed before and will not hand in their weapons now, in part for fear of being outflanked by their hardliners. The Ulster Unionists know that, which is why they are demanding it. Question is: why are they demanding it? Anyhow, since when has any nationalist terrorist movement voluntarily done so? ETA, UCK, the Tamil Tigers, the Sikh extremists, the Kashmiri militants, the list is endless. In the modern world, it is just too easy to hang on to some guns and explosives, and restock immediately after giving away some.
Bernard Meares, Switzerland

Alex Bank, as you say, if the IRA handed over 2 or 3 dumps to kick start the process then they would be in a win-win situation. They would still have other weapons, but would keep the UUP and British Government happy for the moment. Perhaps the reason they haven't done this is that they see no point in it. Perhaps they want to find a satisfactory way to them, vis de Chastelaine, to start a process that would put them all out of use, instead of a symbolic couple of dumps. Seems the UUP have wasted an opportunity for progress.
Tristan O'Dwyer, UK

In response to Michael Hanley, from USA. I think that you confuse the Republic of Ireland as some Baltic State country. I actually find that remark offensive. Point about the arms. It has being proven in the past that the IRA can re-arm very quickly from Eastern European States. So whether they disarm their current arms, or not, they can easily obtain guns quickly and readily. So posturing over decommissioning from both sides is actually irrelevant. It is action, i.e. the use of arms that speak volumes.
Maxwell Tsu-Araujo, Eire

When will people get their heads straight about this issue and stop wheeling out the same old right wing Unionist propaganda? PIRA arms are silent and have been for several years. The Loyalists are still beating, bombing and murdering Catholics though. No other successful conflict resolution of this type has depended on decommissioning - decommissioning is a red herring, of which the Unionists have a bucket load in reserve.

The "concessions" that have been granted to the Catholic/Nationalist community are merely civil rights that the rest of the UK enjoys on an every day basis - there are plenty more to come before this is finished. Sinn Fein has done exactly what it agreed to do in the Good Friday Agreement. HMG still has not delivered real police reform. HMG still hasn't delivered judicial reform. HMG still hasn't delivered a plan for demilitarisation. When are the Unionists and HMG going to do their part as specified, agreed upon, voted for and signed up to in the Agreement?
Colin, UK

A party that insists on the right to retain weapons on the grounds they might be needed to murder political opponents in future? Doesn't sound like a party that has much interest in the rules or values of democracy to me.
Henry Case, UK

As usual, it's the silent majority who have to suffer the consequences

J McNulty, Ireland
It seems the final nail has gone into the coffin of the Good Friday agreement, satisfying Republicans and Unionists alike. As usual, it's the silent majority who have to suffer the consequences.
J McNulty, Ireland

The IRA will never de-commission its arsenal of terrorist weapons. Submitting a plan without any time scale is like writing a million-pound cheque without dating and signing it - just an empty gesture. With drugs and weapon connections the IRA have no real 'righteous cause' they are merely gangsters and thugs.
Wayne McDonough, UK

How the term "Mexican stand-off" came into being is a complete mystery to me - unless, of course, it was the product of Northern Irish émigrés! Has no one proposed implementation of the Agreement incrementally? Take small steps - IRA hand over a few guns, then the UDA, British government close a barracks or two, couple of new Catholic cops on patrol. Why not build trust slowly, one small step at a time, rather than the current impasse over total this or total that? There certainly seem to be enough people watching to see no one cheats!
Tim M, USA

Who on earth do the IRA think they are fooling?

John P Hodge, Acme, Canada
Who on earth do the IRA think they are fooling? Give up your guns and get serious. This is just another stuttering excuse to hang on to their weaponry. Enough is enough. The terrorists are extracting all the concessions they can get and you know what? - they will still be terrorists.
John P Hodge, Acme, Canada

Interesting timing, given that three IRA members were arrested yesterday for having supplied "explosives training" to a terrorist group in Colombia. Colombia?? Pretty far from NI, I would say. So much for their commitment to peace. Obviously they live for quite the opposite.
R. McNaughton Phillips, USA

By walking out six weeks ago, it was Trimble's Unionists who exercised a veto on the peace process - the infamous orange card has been played again. As Jeffrey Donaldson and his cohorts know well, the horrible violence was always a symptom of the real problem. Had Unionists not run amok over the rights and lives of their fellow citizens, we would never have needed to have a peace process. Come on, David, bow to democracy and justify that Nobel peace prize you've been given.
Colm Murray, Scotland

The problem is that there is no solution

Robert, England
When it comes to Northern Ireland, everyone talks about the solution. They do not talk about the problem. The problem is that there is no solution. The two communities will not agree because they cannot agree - each side's simple existence is already an insurmountable obstacle for the other. That is the bleak truth.
Robert, England

Many of the comments posted here criticise the Unionists and Nationalists for holding fixed and unyielding views, yet betray the writers' own fixed view that the British Government has a key role to play in finding a solution. If the past 30 years tell us anything it is that British rule simply does not work and solutions that view the problem from the British perspective inevitably fail. It is time for the British government to finally call it a day. Tony Blair should set midnight on December 31st as the deadline for total withdrawal. There should then be a period of UN control with UN peacekeepers, during which all the necessary demilitarisation, police reform, human rights legislation and decommissioning should take place. Once this is all over there should be a referendum to decide where to go next.
Matthew Short, England

It's time for the Irish Republic special branch police to come clean and tell us where the IRA arms dumps are located. Once that has happened the Irish military should shut them down. The police know where the dumps are and it's time to act.
Michael Hanley, USA

The "Republicans" caught in Colombia have broken no law here, so let them serve their sentence, if convicted, in Colombia.
Alan R. Doole, UK

Rise above this bickering

Debbie Curnes, USA
I have been following the news of the peace process in Northern Ireland for years now and it seems to me the politicians in Northern Ireland are childish on both sides. It is up to the people of Northern Ireland to make their wishes known by public demonstration. They have to know by now that the politicians aren't going to make peace. Rise above this bickering and have public rallies demanding an end to the violence.
Debbie Curnes, USA

Now the IRA have shown their commitment to the peace process let's tear it up, strengthen the RUC and thoroughly destroy the paramilitaries on both sides. When they've had enough hold talks at which they are the junior partners and are there to get the best deal to prevent their annihilation.
Mark, Northern Ireland

I have Protestant friends from Northern Ireland who want to be friends with Catholics but the history of hatred and their families will not allow this to happen. On the individual level the end of the struggles can be found. It is only the ruling powers that make things bad!
Deirdre, USA

Knowing that these silly thugs are controlling the way of life here, I am shameful to say to the people outside that I live in Northern Ireland, which is really a terrorist state.
Joe, Northern Ireland

Surely the mature action now would be to look ahead and build for the future

Phil W, UK
The IRA and Ulster Unionist leadership seem to be lowering themselves to play into the hands of a minority intent on making trouble, rather than "rising" to meet the wishes of the apparent majority in Ireland (and elsewhere) who want to build "peace bridges" and make violence a dirty word, and a thing of the past. Surely the mature action now would be to look ahead and build for the future putting arms beyond reach from ANY side.
Phil W, UK

Time to get tough. The IRA commitment to the peace process is a sham and designed to maximise concessions from the government with no concessions on their side. They know if they disarm they cease to exist and are not prepared to do it. So be it. Ignore them and decide a peace settlement between the SDLP and the Unionists. If and when the Republicans take their guns off the table then they can also be admitted to the discussion. The time for discussion with them is over.
Mike, UK

Year by year the Provisional IRA and the loyalist para-militaries are becoming less and less relevant. The politics of Irish nationalism and British unionism have no place in a modern Europe.
Mac, Dundee

Loyalist paramilitaries have been less than enthusiastic about surrendering their arms either

Shaun Prior, Scotland
General de Chastelain's group were brought in to be an independent body charged with overseeing decommissioning. They were satisfied with the IRA's latest proposals but yet again certain blinkered reactionary Unionists chose to poo-poo the proposals. It is seldom highlighted that the Loyalist paramilitaries have been less than enthusiastic about surrendering their arms either.

The stark truth is that, regardless of how many arms get decommissioned, there are influential people on the Loyalist side who will still want what they had three decades ago. Little short of a "Mugabe-style" regime. Republicans will never again accept this. As long as the weapons on both sides are not being used, why stop the talking?
Shaun Prior, Scotland

Sinn Fein and their foot soldiers in the IRA clearly want an end to the peace process. Their refusal to give up their weapons clearly indicates this. There can be no other explanation after three and a half years of concessions being granted to them, including the admission of one of their Army Council members to the government. They seem to be hell bent on retaining the so-called right to armed struggle which is a pathetic excuse for perpetrating atrocities like Bloody Friday and Enniskillen against defenceless civilians.
Eric, UK

It is a sad moment for Northern Ireland

Ken Burch, USA
It is a sad moment for Northern Ireland. The Unionist intransigence and arrogance drove the IRA into backing down from the bold step they were willing to make. Why do the Unionists insist on demanding the unilateral disarmament of the IRA when they know that the IRA sees this as a humiliating act of surrender? The IRA has maintained its cease-fire. It goes without saying that they wouldn't have been stupid enough to go back to armed conflict if the permanent survival of the Assembly and the peace process were agreed to by the Unionists.
Ken Burch, USA

Why do we bother spending so much time, effort and money on this when all we get from both sides is intransigence, uncooperative remarks, and downright denials of the legitimate claims of the other? We have a transport system on the point of collapse as well as hospitals and schools which are grossly underfunded. Isn't it about time more money was diverted from a pointless exercise in NI and put to good use in all parts of the UK?
Keith, UK

The original IRA and IICD statements of last week were only that a method of decommissioning has been agreed. There was no agreement to actually decommission any of the IRA weapons. Therefore it makes little sense to "wthdraw" such a statement. It's not as though they had said they would do any actual act. Thus it is fairly meaningless and if anything undermines the IRA and Sinn Fein position by making them seem opportunistic.
Howard, UK

They have simply manipulated it as far as they can for their own political ends

James Beeley, Scotland
In my opinion Sinn Fein/IRA have never been committed to the peace process. They have simply manipulated it as far as they can for their own political ends. In reality there is no way that they or their 'Loyalist' counterparts will hand over or dispose of weapons, as doing so would lose these groups much of their political power. The only real solution to the problems in Northern Ireland is for both the British and Irish governments to use their full police, military and intelligence resources in a vigorous and unrelenting, but even-handed, pursuit of all of the criminal organisations operating in Ulster, regardless of whether they are Republican or Loyalist.
James Beeley, Scotland

Nothing that either side has said or done has stopped this pointless violence. When are they going to realise that both Dublin and Westminster are equally controlled by Brussels so there is no difference between them worth fighting over?

I have just read your other news article about the three Provisional IRA 'men' being held in Columbia. They have tested positive for explosives and weapons handling? This doesn't sound like a move towards peace to me. Of course they could be 'former' members...but probably not eh?
Simon, UK

It is a disgrace that no Unionist politician is prepared to talk about Loyalist decommissioning. So why is this not an issue? The bombs and the bullets going off in Northern Ireland seem to be coming from the Loyalist camp. Are Unionist politicians giving them tacit approval?
John Bennett, UK

The process of peace itself is now unstoppable

Conor, Northern Ireland
Without denying the importance of the arms issue, the real peace process is hidden from the cameras. In the past 10 years I have seen more young Catholics and Protestants become friends than ever before. They spend time together and learn that the 'other side' is not evil. They go out to the cinema together. This is the real peace process and where our hope lies. The Agreement exists only to provide a peaceful setting in order to nurture this. What next? It is very easy to be pessimistic, but even if this Agreement falls I think the process of peace itself is now unstoppable.
Conor, Northern Ireland

It is time we asked the IRA to put up or shut up. Either it has a political mandate, in which case we should take it seriously and ask its opinions, or it does not and we should ignore its wishes, proceeding with peace in their absence. For thirty years we have wanted nothing more than to live our lives without fear. GET ON WITH IT, and let's build a future. If the IRA starts another violent campaign, its motives will be quite clear.
Chris, Northern Ireland

This is a very bad day for the peace process. A lot of ground had been made last week and the ball had begun to roll on decommissioning. Last week's decision by the IRA was a very hard one to make considering the 100,000 legal arms held by Protestants, the Loyalist's guns and the army's guns. The Unionists should have welcomed this move and moved the process on. I think this has set the peace process back another few months. As the IRA said today "Peacekeeping is a collective effort".
Robert Downes, Eire

We are in this for the long haul

Paul T. Horgan, UK
The peace process will last 30 years while a generation unused to violence grows up and the gunmen and bombers die in their beds of old age. We are in this for the long haul and every year without an atrocity is a victory of sorts. So long as the parties bicker and don't resume the killing then the process is on track.
Paul T. Horgan, UK

The only thing that has changed in those 5 days is the fact that Sinn Fein/IRA didn't get their own way. The IRA proposal was only words. There was never any risk of them actually decommissioning, because all they are interested in is piling up the concessions to Republicans/Nationalists, knowing the Unionists would eventually say 'enough'. The only concession Sinn Fein/IRA has given is the one that makes them not kill anyone (that's discounting punishment shootings by the way). Something they had no moral right to do anyway.
Neill, Belfast

Just shows how serious the IRA are about peace.
M.P. Marshall, UK

The whole thing is no more than a stage-managed stunt

Andrew Moore, UK
I believe this latest move was planned last week when the "satisfactory" decommissioning agreement was announced. The whole thing is no more than a stage-managed stunt. It's becoming impossible to take these people seriously at all.
Andrew Moore, UK

Well done the Loyalists, you have got your way. God forgive you.
Gerry, Scotland

The IRA's stance on disarming seems to take as a model the old 'cheese shop' sketch from Monty Python. Just as there was no cheese in the shop, so the IRA have no intention of disarming. The game is simply to see how long you can keep the customer waiting by making excuses but without actually admitting the truth. If it wasn't so terrible it would be funny.
Andrew Carter, UK

It shouldn't really surprise anyone. Would they really have 'put them beyond use' in the first place?
Tom O'Donovan, aged 16, UK

This is the 21st Century for goodness sake

Martin Walker, UK
I am not surprised by the IRA statement. We all knew the 'historic statement' was a shameless political sham. The Unionists missed a trick though. I would have responded with an equally historic statement promising to start thinking about, perhaps, beginning to, at some time in the future reforming the police in some way or another. As an English Roman Catholic, I confess to not understanding either the Unionists or the Republicans. This sort of conflict should have been consigned to the rubbish bin years ago. This is the 21st Century for goodness sake. There are more important things in life.
Martin Walker, UK

Well, after the Colombian police arrests, the fiasco over "surrendering" arms, the car bombs in London of late, I guess we all know where the IRA is in the peace process. The British people, through their government (of either political persuasion), have clearly gone the extra mile to try and keep the peace process alive, only to be met by stone-walling, prevaricating, procrastinating, perfidious and totally ingenuous liars. Not that the Unionists are much better ... time to get really tough militarily.
Mark M. Newdick, US/UK

The Unionists need to rise above the intransigence and pettiness that has characterised their approach to date. They demand decommissioning, yet refuse to accept the independent arms body's statement for what it is - a historic opportunity to move forward. When they begin to put the wishes of the Irish people, who have shown that they want the Good Friday Agreement fully implemented, before their narrow political and tribal inclinations then at last we may see progress.
Steve, UK

The IRA proposal was only words

Neill, Belfast
The only thing that has changed in those 5 days is the fact that Sinn Fein/IRA didn't get their way. The IRA proposal was only words. There was never any risk of them actually decommissioning, because all they are interested in is piling up the concessions to republicans/nationalists, knowing the Unionists would eventually say 'enough'.
Neill, Belfast

I must admit I don't understand the full background to the NI situation, but it is always the IRA who change the mind or refuse to compromise.

Just another farcical and premeditated publicity stunt by a group whose interest is to bolster its leaders' egos by gaining political influence, rather than benefit the community. They must be pleased; the exercise has served its purpose well. "At least we tried," they will say in patronising tones, "aren't we the reasonable ones?" The sad thing is that some people will be taken in by their hollow chatter and the IRA will gain more power.
James, UK

The IRA have lots of stashes of arms. They could comfortably sacrifice two or three to kick-start the peace process

Alex Banks, UK, living in France
The IRA have lots of stashes of arms. They could comfortably sacrifice two or three to kick-start the peace process. All the kudos would be with them and everyone would view them as heroes, both in Ireland and in the UK. If it all went wrong and the process collapsed, they would easily be able to rattle a few tins in their key fundraising areas and they'd get more than enough money to replace the lost assets that "the bloody English tricked from them". The IRA would be in a win-win situation if they did that.
Alex Banks, UK, living in France

The peace process will last 30 years while a generation unused to violence grows up and the gunmen and bombers die in their beds of old age. We are in this for the long haul and every year without an atrocity is a victory of sorts. So long as the parties bicker and don't resume the killing then the process is on track.
Paul T Horgan, UK

Once again it is the ordinary people of all communities who live in the resulting fear and tension

Stephen Brookes, UK
The point at issue is that where there are two groups of ideology which no one seems, (or wants) to be able to bridge, the result is as we have seen. The Ulster Unionists had the opportunity to move each step and put the weapons issue to a point where the IRA were committed by international pressure to comply with decommissioning, or to be seen as in default. In this matter they had, and still have power to make a difference, whilst politicians such as Gerry Adams have consistently shown themselves to be unable, rather than unwilling, to do anything. Unfortunately, the Unionists only make matters more difficult by blaming everyone but themselves for the failure in this sensitive but critical issue. And once again it is the ordinary people of all communities who live in the resulting fear and tension.
Stephen Brookes, UK

These weapons have become less tools of war than bargaining chips. The IRA has just decided that they don't want to spend their most valuable negotiating currency quite yet since a return to violence is a step backward, they obviously have something in mind "i.e., a new political demand is in the pipeline".
Michael Gahan, Ireland

Is anyone really surprised? The IRA has absolutely no intention of disarming. They realise that the British Government will probably eventually accept a compromise.
John Gant, UK

Assembly back

IRA arms breakthrough


Loyalist ceasefire





See also:

14 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
IRA 'withdraws' weapons plan
14 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
IRA statement in full: 14 August 2001
06 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Mixed reaction to arms report
03 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
IRA 'will keep arms promise'
11 Feb 00 | Northern Ireland
Second De Chastelain report in full
11 Feb 00 | Northern Ireland
First De Chastelain report in full
06 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Breakthrough or gesture?
06 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
IRA weapons 'breakthrough'
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