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Brian Keenan, reputedly the IRA's chief of staff
"The revolution can never be over...until we have British imperialism where it belongs, in the dustbin of history"
 real 28k

Sinn Fein's president Gerry Adams
"There wouldn't be a peace process if it wasn't for Brian Keenan"
 real 28k

BBC NI political editor Stephen Grimason
"This is a steadying call from a leading strategist within the republican movement"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 27 February, 2001, 10:34 GMT
Sinn Fein defends IRA comments

Keenan is the IRA's delegate to the arms body
Sinn Fein has defended remarks made by the IRA leadership's delegate to the disarmament body, that the war against Britain is not over.

At a republican commemoration in South Armagh at the weekend Brian Keenan said those who said the war was over, did not know what they were talking about.

On Monday, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble called on the republican movement to repudiate the statement.

But speaking on BBC Radio Ulster on Tuesday, Mitchel McLaughlin said there was no threat implied by Mr Keenan's comments.

Mitchel McLaughlin: Political struggle continues
Mitchel McLaughlin: Political struggle continues
The Sinn Fein assembly member added: "For me as a republican my personal struggle will not be over until the British government has left this island." Keenan said the "revolution" could never be over until British imperialism was "consigned to the dustbin of history".

Mr Trimble, the first minister, said the remarks seemed to "imply that the terrorist campaign may be resumed in the future".

David Trimble: Call for repudiation of statement
David Trimble: Statement implies threat
He said they were a "clear contradiction to the statement made by Gerry Adams on 1 September 1998, when he said that violence 'must be for all of us now a thing of the past, over, done with and gone".

"It is clearly now up to the republican movement, by keeping the promises they made at Hillsborough in May 2000, to repudiate Mr Keenan."

Last May, the IRA said it was ready to begin a process that would "completely and verifiably" put its weapons beyond use.

It was followed by the inspection of a number of IRA arms dumps by two international inspectors and a restoration of the suspended power-sharing executive.

Brian Keenan addressed a republican commemoration
Brian Keenan addressed a republican commemoration
Keenan once said the only thing that would be decommissioned in the province would be the British State.

On Sunday, at Creggan in South Armagh, Keenan called for republican unity at a time of increasing activity by dissident republican paramilitaries.

The issue of IRA decommissioning, along with policing and demilitarisation, are currently causing a stumbling block in the peace process.

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See also:

17 Nov 99 | Northern Ireland
IRA to appoint arms go-between
03 Dec 99 | Northern Ireland
Decommissioning: The paramilitary figures
06 May 00 | Northern Ireland
IRA arms offer
26 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Timeline: Road to arms inspections
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