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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 07:59 GMT
IRA warns of peace process 'threat'
IRA gunman
Unionists want the IRA to disband
The IRA leadership has said the Northern Ireland political process is "under threat".

They also accused both the British Government and unionists of trying to impose "'unacceptable and unrealistic" demands on republicans.

However, in a New Year statement, the group said it remained committed to a just and lasting peace.

The primary responsibility for restoring confidence in this process lies with the British Government

IRA statement

The statement comes as Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams prepares to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street on Thursday afternoon to discuss the deadlocked process.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since 14 October following a row over allegations of IRA activity, including intelligence gathering at Stormont.

Unionists have demanded the IRA disband, and in October Mr Blair called for "acts of completion" from the republican movement to demonstrate that it had made the transition from violence to democracy.

Sinn Fein has blamed the difficulties in the process on unionists.

'Loyalist murder gangs'

That attitude was reinforced by the IRA in its statement to the republican newspaper, An Phoblacht, which said: "Pursuing an agenda dictated by those opposed to change obstructs the creation of the conditions necessary to building a lasting peace."

The statement also widened the blame for the state of the peace process to encompass "the British military establishment, its intelligence agencies and... the loyalist murder gangs".

The IRA said the British had failed to keep their commitments and unionist leaders had failed to embrace change.

The statement added: "But both have tried to place the responsibility for the present crisis and its resolution on the IRA.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams meeting Tony Blair in London
"They have sought to impose unacceptable and unrealistic ultimatums on the IRA.

"Pursuing an agenda dictated by those opposed to change obstructs the creation of the conditions necessary to build a lasting peace.

"The IRA leadership has outlined, on a number of occasions, how the full implementation by the two governments of their commitments could provide a political context with the potential to remove the causes of conflict. That remains our view.

"The primary responsibility for restoring confidence in this process lies with the British Government. Honouring their obligations is how this can be done."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said there was nothing new in the statement.

He said all the parties needed to be involved in restoring devolution.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with the prime minister, Mr Durkan said round-table negotiations were important to implement the Agreement.

Mr Durkan said: "We have said all along that what we need to achieve - not just dealing with all the confidence issues - but a clear implementation pack that all the parties are signed up to.

"This would show that it is not a fudge and it is not a fix just to make us all look good before the election and there is not a breakdown waiting to happen... that we are getting our act together."

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Mark Simpson
"There are some tough words in this statement"
  BBC NI's security editor Brian Rowan:
"The IRA say the peace process is under threat from what it calls the British military establishment"
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:

08 Jan 03 | N Ireland
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