Da The Times del 05/10/2006
Originale su http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2389186.html

IRA is committed to ending all terrorist activity, say monitors

di Greg Hurst, David Sharrock

TONY BLAIR piled pressure on the Democratic Unionists last night to accept that Sinn Fein is a legitimate government partner by lauding a report which confirmed that the Provisional IRA was winding down its activities.

The Independent Monitoring Commission said that the Provisionals have begun reducing the size of the organisation and have shut down specialist units responsible for making weapons, smuggling arms and training.

Mr Blair seized on the report’s findings as evidence that the IRA had permanently renounced violence and appealed to the Rev Ian Paisley, the Democratic Unionist leader, and other politicians in the Province to recognise the opportunity to reach a settlement in talks next week.

But, while Mr Paisley said that the report proved that his party’s hardline stance was forcing the IRA to abandon its terrorist structures, he gave no indication that he anticipated reaching an agreement to share power with Sinn Fein.

The 60-page report, by a four-man panel that includes former directors of the US Central Intelligence Agency and the anti-terrorist unit of Scotland Yard, said that the Provisionals had recently shut down three command units and “run down its terrorist capability”.

“It has disbanded ‘military’ structures, including the general headquarters departments responsible for (weapons) procurement, engineering and training, and it has stood down volunteers and stopped allowances,” the report said.

“We do not believe that PIRA is now engaged in terrorism. We do not believe that PIRA is undertaking terrorist-type training. We do not believe that PIRA has been recruiting. The leadership is seeking to reduce the size of the organisation. We have no evidence of targeting, procurement or engineering activity. We believe that the leadership does not consider a return to terrorism as in any way a viable option,” the commission said.

Mr Blair said: “The IRA has done what we asked. In short, Sinn Fein and the IRA are following the political path and the commitment to exclusively democratic means. The IRA campaign is over.

“There is now a consensus across all the main parties in the province of Northern Ireland that change can only come through persuasion and not through violence. While issues like policing remain to be resolved, the door is now open to a final settlement, which is why the talks next week in Scotland are going to be so important.”

The Prime Minister added: “This will be a unique opportunity. I hope all the parties understand that and seize that opportunity to create a future for the people of Northern Ireland, based on shared democratic and peaceful values where politics is conducted within an environment of tolerance and respect.”

Referring to all-party discussions in St Andrews next week, Mr Blair said: “It still requires courage and leadership on all sides. I hope it is forthcoming.”

Last night, Catherine McCartney, sister of Robert McCartney, who died in January 2005 when a gang of Republicans in a Belfast city bar attacked him, said she feared that her brother’s murder would be “swept under the carpet”. She told Channel 4 News that those involved in the murder continued to be protected by the IRA and that the only measure of progress in the peace process was when the perpetrators of such crimes were brought to justice.

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