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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 July, 2005, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Reaction to IRA statement
Leading figures have been giving their reaction to the IRA's statement that it has formally ordered an end to its armed campaign and will pursue exclusively peaceful political means.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER

Mr Blair said it was a "step of unparalleled magnitude".

Prime Minister Tony Blair
Tony Blair said it was 'unparalleled'
Today may be the day that peace replaced war, that politics replaced terror, on the island of Ireland.

It is what we have striven for and worked for throughout the eight years since the Good Friday Agreement.

It creates the circumstances in which the institutions can be revived.

IAN PAISLEY, DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY LEADER

We will judge the IRA's bona fides over the next months and years based on its behaviour and activity.

Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley said the IRA would be judged on its actions

Even on the face of the statement they have failed to explicitly declare an end to their multi-million pound criminal activity and have failed to provide the level of transparency that would be necessary to truly build confidence that the guns have gone in their entirety.

This lack of transparency will prolong the period the community will need to make its assessment.

We treat with contempt their attempt to glorify and justify their murder campaign and we will be evaluating the extent of the price paid by the government and the consequences that will have for the political process.

GERRY ADAMS, SINN FEIN LEADER

The IRA decision presents an unparalleled challenge and opportunity for every nationalist and republican.

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams said the statement presented a challenge

There is an enormous responsibility on us to seize this moment and to make Irish freedom a reality.

I would urge all Irish nationalists and republicans, including those who have shown such commitment as volunteers of the IRA, to put their undoubted talents and energy into building a new Ireland.

BERTIE AHERN, IRISH PRIME MINISTER

Today's developments can herald a new era for all of the people on the island of Ireland.

Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern said the focus would now be on the Agreement
The end of the IRA as a paramilitary organisation is the outcome the governments have been working towards since the cessation of military activities in 1994.

If the IRA's words are borne out by verified actions, it will be a momentous and historic development.

Our focus now is on completing the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, which has brought such immense benefits to this country.

GEORGE W BUSH, US PRESIDENT

This IRA statement must now be followed by actions demonstrating the republican movement's unequivocal commitment to the rule of law and to the renunciation of all paramilitary and criminal activities.

George W Bush
Mr Bush said the statement must be followed by actions
We understand that many, especially victims and their families, will be sceptical.

They will want to be certain that this terrorism and criminality are indeed things of the past.

SIR REG EMPEY, ULSTER UNIONIST PARTY LEADER

People are so sceptical, having had...been burnt so many times before.

Sir Reg Empey
UUP leader Sir Reg Empey said people needed to be convinced
This is not simply whinging or being difficult about it, it's being simply factual that we've had so many statements before that haven't been kept.

And as far as the whole criminality is concerned, I mean, there are huge multi-million-pound smuggling rackets that have been run by the IRA, the bank robbery that was only recently held at the Northern Bank, which was the largest in British history, so, you know, people are going to take some time to see.

MARK DURKAN, SDLP LEADER

We have stressed that the IRA's break with its past has to be clear, clean and complete. This statement appears to be that.

Mark Durkan
Mark Durkan said the IRA must make a break from its past

The SDLP hopes that, as promised, all IRA paramilitary activity and all IRA involvement in organised crime will end now and for good - as well as the culture of cover up and community control.

It has to be noted that today's statement does not commit to the provisional movement to policing. Yet policing is fundamental to accepting the rule of law and vital to tackle organised crime.

The SDLP calls on Sinn Fein to join with us in upholding the new beginning to policing.

PETER HAIN, NORTHERN IRELAND SECRETARY

The clarity of this statement is in contrast to its predecessors. It states in plain language that the armed campaign is at an end.

Peter Hain
Peter Hain said the statement was in plain language

Nevertheless, the way that the conflict has played out in Northern Ireland means that there will be some caution. But caution should not become obduracy.

Since the IRA has stated it is relegating physical force to history and dedicating itself to exclusively peaceful and democratic means, I hope that all democrats will acknowledge the significance of that commitment.

It opens up the prospect that devolved government can be re-established in Northern Ireland and on an inclusive basis.

DENIS BRADLEY, POLICING BOARD VICE CHAIRMAN

Denis Bradley
Denis Bradley said the statement meant the war was over

Mr Bradley said the statement was saying the war was over and people needed to acknowledge the clarity of it.

This is enormous within the history of this island.

Will Sinn Fein now take their responsibility and their place in policing and justice?

DAVID FORD, ALLIANCE PARTY LEADER

While this statement is clearly a significant move in the right direction, it is important to look behind the hype, and analyse its true meaning.

David Ford
David Ford said a number of issues were not addressed
A statement in which the IRA declares an end to its 'armed campaign' does not address a number of issues.

There is still no clear acceptance of the legitimacy of both the northern and southern states with respect to policing and criminal justice matters.

There is no renunciation of their self-proclaimed right to indulge in 'community policing' and dispensing paramilitary beatings.

DANNY MORRISON, FORMER SINN FEIN PUBLICITY DIRECTOR

I think this statement could have come earlier, actually, had unionists played ball, instead of resisting the whole equality and power-sharing agenda which came with the compromise that they had to also engage with.

I mean the IRA has compromised, and (delivered a) ceasefire without achieving its major goals.

The unionists have had to compromise but they have been resisting that, the power-sharing executive, the all-Ireland cross-border bodies, the equality agenda, the reform of the police, they have resisted that, fought tooth and nail, so now the onus... in a sense the IRA has turned the tables on its critics here and I think in return it is now occupying the moral high ground.

COLIN PARRY, FATHER OF IRA WARRINGTON BOMB VICTIM TIM

Obviously I'd welcome it, like I'm sure any right-thinking person would.

It has been 30-odd years of bloodshed and pain and suffering for so many people like me, which will, with any luck, be behind us: certainly in the political sense it will be behind us, anyway.

DAVID LIDINGTON, CONSERVATIVE NI SPOKESMAN

I think it is a step forward, but there's three big tests, in my mind.

First is whether this process is irreversible and that means that we've got to see the arms and explosives verifiably decommissioned.

And also that we've got to see the end of the IRA as an effective paramilitary organisation, rather than, as at the moment, with all the reports saying they are not pursuing the armed struggle, but they have the capacity to do so, should they change their mind, and that's got to change.

There has got to be an end to crime: the racketeering, the smuggling, the beatings that are going on to impose IRA rule in nationalist areas.

JOHN HUME, FORMER SDLP LEADER AND NOBEL LAUREATE

Now the road is totally clear, I am reasonably confident we will make further progress.

John Hume
John Hume said he was reasonably confident progress would be made

The real duty now, if we want to have a totally peaceful and stable country, is for all true democrats to implement the will of the people.

I think this should make quite a substantial difference because obviously a complete and absolute end to violence is a necessity in our situation.

MITCHELL REISS, US PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH'S SPECIAL ENVOY FOR NORTHERN IRELAND

We will soon see whether these words will be turned into deeds.

Everybody would like to move as quickly as possible but let's move ahead clearly and do it in a way which gives reassurance.

I am hopeful there will be a major act of decommissioning, an end to all the arms that the IRA has, in the next few weeks if not sooner.

DAVID ERVINE, PROGRESSIVE UNIONIST PARTY LEADER

First of all it's unambiguous and that's a first.

David Ervine
David Ervine said the IRA was saying the war is over

The second thing that's a first is that it's front loading.

Normally, the IRA demand that others move and then the IRA will follow.

This time the IRA has gone first and that is significant.

What they are saying, and the third item, is the war is over.

MARY McALEESE, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

Today's statement by the IRA offers a real opportunity to build the trust and mutual understanding on which a just, equitable and peaceful future will rest.

Mary McAleese
Mary McAleese said the statement offered a real opportunity

I hope that, in the interest of generations to come, this opportunity will now be well and wisely used.

I would like to praise all those who have been working so hard to ensure an end to the tradition of armed struggle in Ireland and to promote a future in which there would be one tradition only and that is the tradition of democratic politics and peaceful persuasion.

ARCHBISHOP ROBIN EAMES, CHURCH OF IRELAND PRIMATE

Quite apart from the political debate which will follow this statement from the IRA there are moral issues which must be addressed.
Archbishop Robin Eames
Robin Eames said the victims of the Troubles must not be forgotten
Any moves which will remove the threat of terrorism and violence from the entire community must be welcomed.

On this day my thoughts and prayers are for the many individuals and families who have lost loved ones through terrorism over the years.

The victims of the past must never be forgotten.

ARCHBISHOP SEAN BRADY, CATHOLIC PRIMATE OF ALL IRELAND

Every word and deed that helps to foster peace is to be welcomed.

Archbishop Sean Brady
Archbishop Brady said the IRA must deliver on its commitments

In that spirit I warmly welcome today's very clear and significant statement by the IRA.

I hope that the IRA will not only deliver on its declared commitment to end its armed campaign but also accompany this historic declaration with the kind of actions that will build trust, inspire confidence and encourage a positive response from others.

Were that to happen I am convinced that today's developments represent a unique opportunity to enhance the progress of recent years and to construct a shared and secure future for all, built on new relationships of respect and understanding.

REVEREND KEN NEWELL, FORMER PRESBYTERIAN MODERATOR

It depends on whether the IRA follows through on its commitments with conviction and integrity.

My conviction in my heart is that they will.

There have been many false dawns but I think this could be the beginning of a new day for us.

CHARLES KENNEDY, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT LEADER

This is a very significant step, and I welcome the IRA's recognition that the only way to achieve peace in Northern Ireland is through democratic rather than violent means.

The Northern Irish authorities should build on the momentum of this announcement to spur forward the peace process.

However, the IRA must ensure that their deeds do indeed match up with their words.




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