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Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 06:50 GMT 07:50 UK
IRA rejects 'ceasefire auditor' plan
IRA mural
The IRA said it remains committed to the peace process
The IRA has said it opposes the idea of independent monitoring of paramilitary ceasefires in Northern Ireland.

The concept of an auditor to check ceasefires were being observed is one that the leader of the Ulster Unionists, David Trimble, has been considering.

Mr Trimble, who is due to meet the prime minister in London on Thursday, hoped the proposal would restore confidence in the peace process.

In an interview with the republican An Phoblacht newspaper, an IRA spokesman said the plan would be only be used "to serve the interests of those opposed to change".

Paramilitaries 'centre stage'

Last week Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the appointment of an auditor would not benefit the peace process.

He added that republicans were concerned by the government's "pandering" to unionists opposed to the Good Friday Agreement.


If the political will is there the Agreement is more than robust to satisfy everyone's misgivings

Mitchel McLaughlin, Sinn Fein chairman

And speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Sinn Fein's chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said to bring in auditors would detract from the "very significant progress" made over four years.

Introducing such an audit would "keep the paramilitaries centre stage" instead of putting the emphasis on the day-to-day basis with political representatives, he said.

"I think they (peace agreement arrangements) are working.

'Disinformation'

"If the political will is there the Agreement is more than robust to satisfy everyone's misgivings," he told the programme.

In the An Phoblacht interview the IRA said it remained committed to the peace process. But it accused "British intelligence agencies" of "indulging in disinformation" to discredit the republicans' role in finding a lasting settlement.


The IRA reaction is unnecessarily premature when this idea has not even been fully or definitively fleshed out

Alban Maginness MLA

The IRA statement was attacked by the Ulster Unionist Party, which said it suggested the movement "must have something to hide".

Alban Maginness, a nationalist SDLP MLA was also critical.

He said: "The IRA reaction is unnecessarily premature when this idea has not even been fully or definitively fleshed out.

"We would be anxious to find out more details about the idea and its operation before coming to any conclusions."

Power sharing

The statement comes ahead of a key meeting between Mr Trimble and his party's ruling council.

On 21 September they will discuss the future of power sharing with Sinn Fein, because of concerns about the state of the IRA ceasefire.

Unionists believe the IRA was responsible for a series of violent disturbances during the summer.

They are also concerned about allegations that the IRA remains active overseas, particularly following the arrests of three IRA suspects in Colombia on suspicion of training rebels.

In its defence the IRA claims that loyalist paramilitaries are behind the recent violence in Northern Ireland and that it did not sanction any operation in Colombia.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's security editor Brian Rowan:
"The IRA says there have been no breaches of its cessation"
Chairman of Sinn Fein Mitchel McLaughlin
"We should stick rigidly to the Good Friday Agreement"
Find out more about the latest moves in the Northern Ireland peace process

Devolution crisis

Analysis

Background

SPECIAL REPORT: IRA

TALKING POINT

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

30 Aug 02 | N Ireland
24 Jul 02 | N Ireland
29 Aug 02 | N Ireland
21 Aug 02 | N Ireland
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