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1972: Official IRA declares ceasefire
The official wing of the IRA in Northern Ireland has announced a ceasefire, reserving the right of self-defence against attacks by the British Army and sectarian groups.

However the Provisional IRA dismissed the truce as having "little effect" on the situation.

The Northern Ireland Secretary, William Whitelaw, welcomed the move and a spokesperson said it was "a step in the right direction".

The overwhelming desire of the great majority of all the people of the north is for an end to military actions by all sides
Official IRA statement
A statement was read out from Dublin after last night's meeting of the executive of the Northern Republican Clubs, a political movement allied to the IRA.

It said: "The overwhelming desire of the great majority of all the people of the north is for an end to military actions by all sides."

It went on to say that a suspension of activities would be a chance to prevent all-out civil war in Ulster.

The group insisted it would continue a campaign of civil disobedience and the political struggle until its demands were met - namely:

  • the release of all internees,
  • an amnesty for political prisoners in British and Irish jails,
  • the withdrawal of British troops from the streets of Northern Ireland,
  • the abolition of the Special Powers Act
  • and a declaration of freedom of political expression.

The RUC and British Army will be the first to benefit from such a ceasefire as they have been the main targets of the IRA.

Residents of Belfast in particular have been worn down by the four-year campaign of violence and this news will be very welcome there.

And Father Hugh O'Neill who leads a Londonderry peace movement said: "Please God, everyone will now sit down and begin to talk."

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Watch/Listen
Masked IRA gunman - April 1972
The official IRA campaign against the RUC and the Army could end soon

Reaction in Ulster to the ceasefire



In Context
The Official IRA called a ceasefire because its campaign of violence which began in 1968 was proving unpopular in Northern Ireland.

The Provisional IRA had been formed in 1969.

From 1972 onwards, its members detonated thousands of bombs in an effort to destabilise Northern Ireland and force British troops out.

Following the Downing Street Declaration, the Provisional IRA announced a ceasefire in 1994, abandoned it in 1995 but resumed in 1997.

Its political wing, Sinn Féin, accepted the 1998 Good Friday Agreement but the IRA refused to decommission its weapons, a key part of the agreement.

In May 2000 the IRA said it would allow inspection of its arms dumps as part of a decommissioning process.

The Real IRA, another splinter group, called a ceasefire after the Omagh bombing of August 1998 caused widespread outrage.

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