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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 April, 2005, 20:02 GMT 21:02 UK
IRA 'has started internal debate'
Gerry Adams
Mr Adams appealed for IRA members to move forward
The IRA has started an internal debate on whether it should pursue its goals exclusively through politics, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said.

It follows his call earlier this month for the IRA to use exclusively political means.

In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, Mr Adams said the discussion was now under way.

"I am confident that the IRA will take this debate forward with all the seriousness that it deserves," he said.

"I firmly believe that the way forward is by building political support for republican and democratic objectives across Ireland and internationally.

"Irish republicanism is at a defining point. The peace process is at a defining point."

Following Mr Adams' call to the IRA, the terror group said it was giving "due consideration" to his appeal.

However, SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell said: "This is what we thought the IRA statement two weeks ago meant. It is what we know the Good Friday Agreement required seven years ago.

"People will wonder whether this is being played out and spun out for electoral reasons, or if it is for real."

Republicans have been under pressure since the 26.5m Northern Bank raid in December and the killing of Robert McCartney in January.

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




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