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Sunday, 28 October, 2001, 20:04 GMT
US terror attacks 'led to decommissioning'
IRA weapons recovered by security forces
America's attitude towards IRA changed
President Bush's special advisor on Northern Ireland has said the attacks on America were a key factor in the IRA's decision to disarm.

Richard Haass was in Belfast at the time of the 11 September attacks on the US.


There is simply zero tolerance in this country for terrorism of any sort, anywhere, of any kind

Richard Haass
And he is believed to have stepped up the pressure for decommissioning to begin in a meeting with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

The IRA announced last Tuesday that it had put some weapons "beyond use," in what is being widely seen as an historic breakthrough for the Northern Ireland peace process.

Sea change

Richard Haass
Mr Haass is believed to have stepped up pressure for decommissioning
Speaking on the BBC's The World This Weekend programme on Sunday, Mr Haass said that the attacks on the US had brought about a sea-change in how America viewed the IRA.

He said: "There is simply zero tolerance in this country for terrorism of any sort, anywhere, of any kind.

"I think that had a tremendous impact on American thinking.

"And indirectly when the leaders of Sinn Fein and the IRA saw that their potential source of support or traditional source of support in the US was very likely to be affected, I think in turn that caused them to reconsider their long-standing policy.

On the day that decommissioning was announced, the BBC's Dublin correspondent Shane Harrison said that 11 September had changed attitudes to international terrorism and intensified pressure on the republican movement.

Colombia

This coupled with events in Colombia had paved the way for a change of approach on weapons decommissioning, he said.

The arrests of three IRA suspects, who had been visiting rebel-controlled Colombia, raised serious questions for the governments in London, Dublin and Washington as well as the divided Ulster Unionist Party, which was reluctant to share power with Sinn Fein in the absence of movement of arms, he continued.

Mr Haass warned last month that all links between the IRA and Colombian left-wing guerrillas, the FARC, must be severed.

Mr Haass said if the IRA was engaged in activities that supported terrorism, it could have "potentially serious consequences for the role of the United States in the peace process".

Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan have been charged with training Marxist guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC, in explosives and urban terrorism.

On Monday last week Mr Adams said Mr Connolly was appointed as Sinn Fein's representative in Cuba without his knowledge or the authorisation of the international department of his party.


Assembly back

IRA arms breakthrough

Background

Loyalist ceasefire

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See also:

28 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Violent protest at army watchtower
25 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Scaling down in south Armagh
24 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Reid announces NI security cuts
24 Oct 01 | NI Deadlock
Putting arms beyond use
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