30/10/2003

McGimpsey hits out at IRA criticism

Leading Ulster Unionist representative Michael McGimpsey has reiterated that Republicans were aware of the need for transparency in the weapons decommissioning process.

His comments follow a statement from the IRA in which it said it would not be involved in further decommissioning because of the breakdown of last week's agreement.

The South Belfast Assembly candidate said: "We have made the point over and over and over again for about five years that we are not up for an invisible process.

"We still don't have a sense of when this is all going to be over. They may say now that they do not understand. They may say others have not stuck to the bargain but they knew very well and Bertie Ahern knew there were problems over transparency.''

However, Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly said there was anger amongst nationalists and republicans, "that once again it was republicans who delivered on their part of an agreement and once again others did not".

"The IRA played a key part in this agreement," the North Belfast Assembly candidate said. "They issued a statement, they engaged with the IICD and they put a large quantity of arms beyond use.

"It is remarkable that given the manner in which this agreement wasn't followed through on, that these comments are so measured. I believe that this is in line with the ongoing commitment of the IRA leadership to the peace process," he added.

In a statement on Wednesday, the IRA said it had honoured its commitments in an agreement and an agreed sequence. However, it hit out at the UUP for stalling the process "without a credible explanation" for doing so.

(MB)

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