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Last Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Decommissioning due 'very soon'
Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams has urged republican unity
Sinn Fein has made it clear to the Irish government that decommissioning will happen soon, Irish foreign minister Dermot Ahern has said.

He was speaking after Taoiseach Bertie Ahern held his first formal meeting with Sinn Fein since the Northern Bank robbery last December.

Gerry Adams said everyone must work together to restore devolution.

"We believe we are all on the cusp of a future... to see democratic and peaceful structures in place," he said.

"Those of us who want to see equality right across the island and those of us who want to see an accommodation between unionists and the rest of us, we are on the cusp of that happening in the wake of the IRA putting its arms beyond use."

I think the Sinn Fein delegation made it very clear that they expect it to happen in the near future
Dermot Ahern
Irish minister for foreign affairs
As speculation mounts that the IRA is preparing to disarm, Mr Adams said it was time to look at the next step.

"And I think we all have to wait for that of course, and our focus at the meeting was to look beyond that even though we all have to wait until that happens," he said.

Mr Adams said his party had raised a number of issues during the discussions with the Irish government in Dublin.

He said these included the murder of Donegal Sinn Fein councillor Eddie Fullerton in 1991, northern representation on southern institutions and the peace process.

Speaking after the meeting, Irish foreign minister Dermot Ahern said a verifiable act of decommissioning would put it up to unionism that they must work in partnership with nationalists.

"I think the Sinn Fein delegation made it very clear that they expect it to happen in the near future, and that they expected that it would be extremely significant and they wanted to emphasise to us that they saw it as significant," Mr Ahern said.


Irish justice minister Michael McDowell said that an end to all criminality was the foundation on which to build a new future.

"I'm confident that the Provisional movement in its entirety knows that as far as the government is concerned that we regard it as absolutely a cornerstone of any further progress in Northern Ireland that there should be no further criminality," he said.

"In that context I think that is clearly understood and the consequences of any breaches of it will be categorical."

Mr McDowell said he had seen nothing which showed the IRA was not living up to its 28 July statement that the military campaign was over.

On Thursday, DUP leader Ian Paisley claimed the government had made a secret deal with the IRA to exclude the need for an arms witness acceptable to unionists.

Mr Paisley said the decommissioning process was a mess, that the IRA made the rules, appointed the referee and was doing as it wanted.

Mr Adams said if the DUP wanted to nominate a witness it should have talked to his party.


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