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Monday, 26 June, 2000, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
Dissidents attack IRA arms move
IRA said they opened dumps to
IRA opened dumps to "further the peace process"
Dissident republicans opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process have attacked the IRA's move to prove that its weapons are "secure and beyond use".

The 32 County Sovereignty Committee, which denied at a weekend conference that it has links to the republican splinter group the Real IRA, has criticised the IRA for opening some of its arms dumps to two international statesmen for inspection.

The IRA said in a statement that it had carried out this confidence building measure to "enhance the peace process" and to "demonstrate once more our commitment to securing a just and lasting peace".

The 32 County Sovereignty Committee said the move, confirmed by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and ex-ANC secretary-general Cyril Ramaphosa was "the first stop in a decommissioning surrender process".


Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams: "Ground-breaking move"
"No amount of gloss or spin will hide the reality that today's reports of the unprecedented opening of arms dumps and report to the British prime minister, is the first stop in a decommissioning surrender process on terms acceptable to the British and Trimble," the group said in a statement.

It added that the IRA move would "confirm to republican grassroots that the Provisionals are indeed being house-trained as part of the price of becoming party to a British administration".

The Committee also said it was an "alternative" to mainstream republicanism.

"The fact that decommissioning is demanded as nationalists on the Garvaghy Road and Springfield Road are under siege and loyalist threat, will not be lost upon the republican grass roots.

'Courage'

Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, which is linked to the IRA, said his party had had problems steadying the nerves of grass roots republicans.

"Let no-one think this has been done without difficulties. Let no-one think there aren't all sorts of worries opened up within republicanism, because there are," he said.

But he said the IRA's move was one of the most significant "in 200 years of armed struggle".

"This ground-breaking and unprecedented IRA initiative is both courageous and imaginative," he said.

The IRA first made it's offer to carry out a confidence building measure as part of a process of putting its weapons "completely and verifiably beyond use" in a statement on 6 May.

This was after the British and Irish governments wrote to the political parties on 5 May outlining their plans for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, including its sections on policing, criminal justice and equality, by June 2001.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble narrowly persuaded his party to return to the Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive, including Sinn Fein, on the basis of the IRA's offer and the package of proposals from the British and Irish government.

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See also:

26 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Inspectors 'satisfied' over IRA arms
26 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Arms move 'a substantial step'
26 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
IRA arms inspectors' report
26 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
IRA statement on inspections
06 May 00 | Northern Ireland
IRA statement in full
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