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Last Updated: Monday, 18 July 2005, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
IRA Statement: 23 March 2005
On this, the 89th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916, we remember the men and women of every generation who have given their lives in the struggle for Irish freedom.

The leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann extends solidarity to the families of our comrades who have fallen during this phase of the struggle. We remember those comrades with honour and pride.

We send solidarity to our volunteers and to our friends and supporters at home and abroad.

We think of our imprisoned comrades and their families at this time also.

Over ten years ago, the leadership of the IRA declared a complete cessation of military operations. We did so to enhance the development of the Irish peace process.

From then until now we have, on a number of occasions, demonstrated our continuing support for this process. At times of significant crisis or political impasse, we have taken initiatives to move the situation forward.

Our approach has been premised on the belief that the achievement of a just and lasting peace requires constant forward momentum in the peace process.

For the past two years, the peace process has been locked in stalemate and has slipped backwards into deepening crisis.

During that period, specifically in October 2003 and in December 2004, we agreed to significant initiatives as part of an agreement to break the logjam. On each occasion, other parties reneged on their commitments.

An unprecedented opportunity to transform the situation on the island of Ireland was thrown away by rejectionist unionism, aided and abetted by the two governments.

The DUP attempted to turn the initiative of December 2004 into a humiliation of the IRA.

The concerted efforts of both governments since then to undermine the integrity of our cause, by seeking to criminalise the republican struggle, is clear evidence that our opponents remain fixated with the objective of defeating republicans rather than developing the peace process.

The sustained campaign directed against the republican people over recent months is nothing new. We have seen and heard it all before. Those who opted to follow the Thatcher path will not succeed.

Our patriot dead are not criminals. We are not criminals. Republican men and women suffered deprivation and torture to defeat attempts to criminalise our struggle.

Ten of our comrades endured the agony of hunger strike and died defeating the criminalisation strategy.

We will not betray their courage by tolerating criminality within our own ranks. We will not allow our opponents to further their own petty self-interests by levelling false allegations against Oglaigh na hEireann.

The IRA has spelt out its position in relation to the killing of Robert McCartney.

It was wrong, it was murder, it was a crime. But it was not carried out by the IRA, nor was it carried out on behalf of the IRA.

The IRA moved quickly to deal with those involved. We have tried to assist in whatever way we can.

Unfortunately, it would appear that no matter what we do it will never be enough for some.

Those in the political and media establishments who have been so quick to jump on the bandwagon have again laid bare their own hypocrisy.

This causes justifiable resentment among republicans. But it must not cloud the issue. Oglaigh na hEireann expects the highest standards of conduct from our volunteers.

Struggle requires sacrifice and discipline. It promises hardship and suffering. Our fallen comrades rose to those challenges and met them head on.

The discipline and commitment of our volunteers and the wider republican base have been the backbone of our struggle. In these testing times, that steadfastness and determination are needed more and more.

We salute you and urge you to remain strong and united.

The crisis in the peace process and the reinvigorated attempts to criminalise us have not diminished in any way our determination to pursue and achieve our republican objectives.

Irish unity and independence provides the best context for the people of this island to live together in harmony. The primary responsibility now rests with the two governments.

They must demonstrate their commitment to a lasting peace. Pandering to the demands of those who are opposed change is not the way forward.



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