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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 April 2005, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Minister calls for IRA to disband
Gunman
The IRA has been urged to give up the armed struggle
The IRA must be disbanded before Sinn Fein can share power in any government, the Irish justice minister has said.

Michael McDowell said there could be no true peace in Northern Ireland while the IRA still existed.

On Thursday, the IRA said it was giving "due consideration" to an appeal by Gerry Adams for it to embrace politics and abandon the armed struggle.

But Mr McDowell told the Progressive Democrats' party conference there was "no new mode for the IRA to go into".

He told the Cork gathering on Saturday: "There is no new IRA-lite policy that will succeed. It must go away.

"The Belfast Agreement was predicated on its disappearing. Now is the time for all of us to say with one united voice - disband the IRA."

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Republicans have been under pressure since the 26.5m Northern Bank raid and the killing of Robert McCartney, both of which were blamed on the IRA.

On Wednesday, Mr Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, said the climate was now right for the IRA to "fully embrace and accept" democratic means.

He said the way forward was by "by building political support" for "democratic objectives".

Gerry Adams

His call was welcomed by the US, British and Irish governments.

In response, the IRA said: "The leadership of the IRA was given notice of the appeal by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams. We have noted his comments.

"The IRA will give his appeal due consideration and will respond in due course."

Mr Adams later welcomed the IRA response and said his plea was "a genuine attempt to drive the peace process forward" and not an electoral ploy.

Talks last year failed to restore devolution, which stalled amid claims of IRA intelligence gathering at Stormont in 2002.


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