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Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
IRA statement: Your reaction
The IRA has rejected calls from Prime Minister Tony Blair and Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble to disband saying in a statement it "will not accept the imposition of unrealisable demands".
The organisation issued the statement in the midst of a crisis in Northern Ireland's political process following the suspension of the power-sharing executive.
The Stormont assembly was suspended on Monday following controversy over allegations of IRA spying within the Northern Ireland Office.
Mr Trimble told his party conference unionists would not be satisfied with a "phantom" IRA disbandment.
What is your reaction to the IRA's statement? What next for the political process at Stormont?
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Terrorism is not about right or wrong, it's about extortion, making money, crime. If the terrorist groups in Ireland gave up tomorrow, they wouldn't have an income. Terrorism is a front, it is that simple.
Jon Cooper, UK
Do any of the paramilitary groups in Ireland actually want peace? It will only spoil perfectly "good" organisations that give their members both financial rewards and status in their communities. A united Ireland - how many people in Ireland really desire a united Ireland?
It goes without saying that any lasting peace in the North requires the IRA to disband as will be required of all paramilitaries. However, the immediate disbandment of the IRA would likely lead to anger among many of its members who might then move to the CIRA or the RIRA which would leave the province in a worse position than it is now. The British and Irish Governments would be better off pressuring the IRA into a timetable for full decommissioning. In addition to force the Unionist hand should this decommissioning take place and the Unionists refuse to accept it any Suspension of the Assembly should result in joint rule.
I am tired of Northern Ireland. I am English and feel no affinity for anyone from that area. When the unionists call themselves British, I feel embarrassed. There needs to be a complete rethink of the situation in NI. Perhaps there should be joint sovereignty for both Britain and Ireland over this area.
I do feel that the Unionists look hard for every reason not to work with Republicans. This is a drain on British resources, which we can ill afford.
The IRA is a terrorist organization that is just as evil and disgusting as al-Qaeda. Mr. Blair is right. Live up to your agreements IRA. Put down your weapons and show that you are willing to live in a peaceful world.
I read comments from Americans here that show support for the IRA. After the attacks on your country by terrorists you think your opinions about terrorists might have changed. Maybe after a few more years of attacks you will realise that what the IRA do can never be justified, and while you sit from your comfy armchairs watching Fox News, telling the rest of the world how they should run their affairs, maybe you should take a look around your own country first.
Paramilitaries are the reason Ireland is divided. The whole time republicans are murdering innocent civilians, loyalists will never agree to Irish rule. All they will achieve and have achieved is the hardening of opposition and increasing revenge attacks. I can't believe that people actually believe that the British have the slightest interest in keeping Northern Ireland, it's nothing but a drain on our economy. Our troops only went there in the first place to keep the peace and stop them beginning a civil war. Time we left Northern Ireland to United Nations troops - a government consisting of both parties is the only way forward.
Jacob, Judea, Israel
How can Blair and the British Parliament expect the IRA to disband if the Royal British marines don't disband and cease their illegal occupation of the Irish people?
I say we have to keep talking, keep trying. The alternative is total destruction. Will everyone be happy then? We must find some common ground, dig in and crawl forward.
Blair's speech is one more episode in the long, slow and ultimately vain attempt to prevent a united Ireland. Once the inevitability of Ireland as a single nation is accepted, peace will come quicker.
If the level of IRA violence is lower than the violence of the other paramilitary groups, why should they be the ones under pressure to disband?
I do not know why people are so surprised at this. There will never be peace in N Ireland. The IRA don't want peace, they never have. My mother saw first hand the fear these cowards cause. As long as they have access to weapons they will never give up. I say just go in and take them out.
As usual people who have a glorified idea of what a "freedom fighter" is fail to see the stark reality. These people use murder and destruction for their own ends. Frequently this also includes other serious criminal activity such as drugs running, bank robberies and intimidation of whole communities. Once this threat is out of the way then we can all concentrate on the removal of the other terrorists and the bigots that wish to hold process back. Sinn Fein should take the necessary steps and become the heroes, rather than the villains, of the whole peace process.
So the IRA is not a threat to peace. Either it is a very poor army or maybe it's considering a role as a peacekeeping army. Perhaps they should offer their services to the UN.
Eilis O'Hara, USA/Ireland
We let 'all' their prisoners out on the understanding that they would disarm shortly after. Now that this is not happening, we need to re-arrest the terrorists, loyalist and republican.
There are people on all sides who don't want a solution, as it would mean an end to the violence which is what these sick people love - intimidation, cruelty, pain. With that gone they'd have to go and get a life and that would never do!
One thing Tony and George should be aware of - the US has a huge and very politically active Irish-American community, the majority of whom are pro-nationalist. If Tony and George keep delivering such a one sided view of the situation in NI, they might find themselves looking awfully stupid staring down Saddam's tanks all by their lonesome.
He didn't address the real issues of NI. Look what happened to Nixon when he was associated with the Watergate break-in. The same should happen to Blair. The storming of the Republican offices and arrest of officials is unheard of - other than in Latin American or African dictatorships. It is clear that England wants to continue its occupation of NI. The IRA are thankfully the only ones standing in its way.
Dennis Burke from the USA does no favours for his fellow Americans. England does not occupy any place. NI is part of the United Kingdom, and the majority of its people wish it to remain so. Justification for IRA violence is the like me justifying al-Qaeda attacks on the US. The IRA is now on Bush's list of terror organisations. It must now be resigned to history.
It is encouraging to hear that Tony Blair is apparently going to take the same line with all terrorists, more than a year after the Sept 11 atrocities. However, as a Labour PM, he has a long way to go to gain the trust of unionists. It's amazing that the level of naivety displayed by Dennis Burke still exists - Dennis the IRA are from the same mould as those who bombed NY and Washington. Haven't most intelligent Americans worked that out? And, England is not 'occupying' NI. There happen to be one million unionists who will never accept a united Ireland.
Is Blair blind to the fact that the IRA has been on a ceasefire for years and the only guns that are active are those of loyalist terrorists. The nationalist community is sick of this double standard where the British government looks at the Irish situation through Orange tinted glasses. Someone should remind Blair that there are still over 140,000 registered "legally held" guns in Northern Ireland according to the NI Police's own statistics and I would be sure less than 5% of these weapons are in nationalist hands.
For once I agree with what I have heard of Tony's speech - the IRA has to cease. Successive British governments - and the current one in particular - have given the IRA far too much freedom.
He lost all credibility a long time ago with his posturing over Iraq and following Bush around like a devoted puppy - so when he talks on any issue, who is listening? Who cares? I would rather watch re-runs of Monty Python.
Very good speech as a speech. And very good content as far as the present situation goes. But while there are paramilitaries and the IRA nothing will ever be achieved. Sadly there is only one thing that would finally resolve the issue - unite Northern Ireland with Eire.
Blair is absolutely right. Let's face it - the use of violence to achieve any end is simply outdated and has resulted in many dire, bloody episodes. With N Ireland we have a civil democratic society, at least on the surface, the maintenance of which should be strived for at all costs - especially in the interests of civilian safety, economic prosperity, artistic development and tourism. The challenge that faces us all is to steer from a culture which appears to fear and respond to violence too readily and to establish a voice of reason and mutual acceptance. It can be done - we just need goodwill and good leadership. God knows we need it.
He said what had to be said. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness must bring what pressure they are able to bear on the IRA Army Council to disband. The unionist paramilitaries must do the same. Violence is not the answer to the province's problems and never was.
C Simpson, UK/USA
Let's hope there is some movement from the terrorist groups on this issue. For too long the people of N Ireland have been under the threat of violence from the IRA and the last few weeks have shown that this threat is increasing by the week.
Ian, Northern Ireland
I agree with Ian, NI. Not only should the IRA disarm and comply with the agreement but also the loyalist paramilitaries as well. Reading the accounts of this situation in America, there is very little mention of the violence at the hands of other paramilitary groups but always plenty of coverage of any event that is suspected to be tied to the IRA. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this situation is that the government has been suspended due to the alleged actions of several individuals and an entire political party is bearing the burden of this.
Tony Blair has promised a lot in the last four years. He broke his word to the people of Northern Ireland on many occasions as well as to the Ulster Unionist Party. He should have taken action a long time ago when it came to light what the IRA was up to in Stormont.
Mr Blair's speech was an honest evaluation of the facts as they have been presented to him. All paramilitaries need to disband and state publicly their intentions to honour the Good Friday Agreement. They all should be guaranteed immunity from prosecution and internment provided that they never become involved in paramilitary activities again and they should be allowed, with a mutually agreed resolution, to join the policing board. The subject of a unified Ireland must be reached democratically by a majority of all the people of the island of Ireland. Then the economic boom will make the Celtic Tiger look like a throw pillow in comparison.
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