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BBC NI security correspondent Brian Rowan:
"Hugely significant statement from the IRA"
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The BBC's Francesca Kasteliz
"The decommisioning deadline is the key detail"
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BBC NI chief security correspondent Brian Rowan
Reports on the governments' proposals
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Saturday, 6 May, 2000, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
IRA arms offer
Third parties invited to inspect IRA arms dumps
Third parties invited to inspect IRA arms dumps
The IRA has said it is ready to begin a process that would "completely and verifiably" put its weapons beyond use.

The statement was issued in response to new proposals from the British and Irish Governments designed to break the deadlock in the Northern Ireland peace process.

The blueprint envisages a return to power-sharing in the province within 16 days, although it hinges on a firm commitment to disarmament by paramilitary groups.

The Search for Peace
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Link to Sinn Fein
The republican group said that within weeks it would make a "confidence-building measure to confirm that its weapons remain secure," in the context of the Good Friday Agreement being fully implemented.

The statement came after an announcement that the UK Government no longer expected the IRA to disarm by 22 May as stated in the agreement.

However, the IRA has not promised to destroy weapons as unionists have demanded, and has only said that their arms dumps can be inspected by agreed third parties who will report to the decommissioning body.

The former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and former ANC secretary general Cyril Ramaphosa have been named to lead those inspections.

'Maximum public confidence'

The IRA statement said: "The contents of a number of arms dumps will be inspected by agreed third parties who will report that they have done so to the international independent commission on decommissioning.


General John de Chastelain head of the International Indepdent Decommissioning Commission
de Chastelain would get IRA weapons report from inspectors
"The dumps will be re-inspected regularly to ensure that the weapons have remained secure."

The IRA also says that the process of putting weapons "beyond use" will be done in such a way as "to avoid risk to the public and misappropriation by others".

It says it will seek to ensure "maximum public confidence".

The IRA also confirms that it will resume contacts with the decommissioning body, broken off after Northern Ireland's political institutions were suspended in February.

It repeats that it "poses no threat to the peace process" but says that its actions will only happen in the context of "progressive and irreversible" political progress.

Parties consider political plan

The extension of the disarmament deadline was made by Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson on BBC Radio 4.

He said it would be moved from 22 May to June 2001, a new target date set for the implementation of all of the other outstanding sections of the agreement.

The IRA's refusal to disarm led to the suspension of Northern Ireland's political institutions when the Ulster Unionists refused to continue sharing power with Sinn Fein, which is closely linked to the paramilitary group.

Mr Mandelson's announcement came as Northern Ireland's political parties considered a letter outlining the two governments' latest proposals to move the peace process forward.

Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern announced the plan on Friday after intense negotiations with the Northern Ireland parties this week.

Policing reform to go ahead

The letter makes it clear that the two governments are determined to press ahead with elements of the agreement, which nationalists and republicans have felt were being delayed.

It also confirms that the controversial change to the Royal Ulster Constabulary name - opposed by unionists - is to go ahead.

The letter says a new independent police recruitment agency will be established and the first recruits will join the new Police Service of Northern Ireland in April next year.

Legislation and a detailed timetable for implementation of the Criminal Justice Review will also be published by April next year.

It also confirms that the remainder of prisoners qualifying for early release under the agreement will be freed by 28 July this year.

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See also:

06 May 00 | Northern Ireland
IRA arms deadline extended
06 May 00 | Northern Ireland
IRA statement in full
06 May 00 | Northern Ireland
The arms inspectors
06 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Governments outline agreement timetable
06 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Assembly statement in full
02 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Q and A: Northern Ireland talks
06 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Mixed reaction to IRA offer
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