Page last updated at 15:19 GMT, Monday, 8 February 2010

Official IRA gets rid of weapons

Official IRA gunman
The IRA split into official and provisional wings in 1969

A second republican paramilitary organisation has announced it has disposed of its weapons.

The Official IRA made the announcement on the same day that the INLA confirmed it had decommissioned its arms.

In 1969, the IRA split into the Official IRA and the Provisional IRA.

The long-dormant Official IRA took a more socialist line, announcing its ceasefire in 1972, while the Provisionals became more militant.

The Provisional IRA completed its decommissioning in 2005.

The timing of the announcements by the INLA and the Official IRA is thought to be linked to the expiry on Tuesday of legislation which allows illegal groups to decommission weapons without fear of prosecution.

Many of the INLA's initial recruits were believed to have come from the Official IRA after its ceasefire.

It is thought the Official IRA - known as the "Stickies" - were behind more than 50 murders, mostly in the early 1970s.

Despite having been on ceasefire for more than three decades, it had sporadically used weapons during internal republican disputes or for so-called punishment attacks.

The group said in a statement on Monday it had abandoned violence and its engagement with General John de Chastelain's Independent International Commission on Decommissioning was successful.

"The purpose of this engagement was to ensure that all weapons which were under the control of the Official IRA or to which the Official IRA had access were accounted for and transferred to the control of the decommissioning body.

"We have emphasised our commitment to removing any doubts that may exist that there are any Official IRA weapons in circulation.

"To this end an extensive nationwide inventory has been completed to confirm and verify that all such equipment has been located, identified and transferred to the decommissioning body. Any other such equipment, which has not been submitted to the decommissioning process, has no association with the Official IRA."

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