28/07/2005

Paisley says IRA will be judged on 'actions'

Today's IRA statement will be judged on actions, not words, over the coming months and years, DUP leader Dr Ian Paisley has said.

In a statement released shortly after the IRA's declaration that it will end its armed struggle from 4pm on Thursday, the North Antrim MP said the history of the past ten years in Northern Ireland was littered with IRA statements "which we were told were ‘historic’, ‘ground-breaking’ and ‘seismic’".

"These same statements were followed by the IRA reverting to type and carrying out more of its horrific murders and squalid criminality," Dr Paisley said. "The unionist community feels no obligation to cheer the words of P O’Neill.

"We will judge the IRA’s bona fides over the next months and years based on its behaviour and activity."

However, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams described today's news as "historic" saying it represented a "courageous and confident initiative".

"The IRA decision presents an unparalleled challenge and opportunity for every nationalist and republican," the West Belfast MP said.

"There is an enormous responsibility on us to seize this moment and to make Irish freedom a reality.

"I would urge all Irish nationalists and republicans, including those who have shown such commitment as volunteers of the IRA to put their undoubted talents and energy into building a new Ireland."

In a joint statement by Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taioseach Bertie Ahern, both men said they welcomed today's developments.

"The end of the IRA as a paramilitary organisation is the outcome the Governments have been working towards since the cessation of military activity in 1994," the statement read.

"We acknowledge the significance of the IRA statement. Both Governments are hopeful that the practical elements of this statement will be implemented in the terms set out. If the IRA's words are borne out by actions, it will be a momentous and historic development."

A short time earlier at a press conference in Downing Street, Mr Blair described the news as "a step of unparalleled magnitude".

"This may be the day which finally after all these false dawns and dashed hopes peace replaced war, politics replaces terror on the island of Ireland," he said. "The statement is of a different order to anything before. It is what we have striven for and worked for throughout the eight years since the Good Friday Agreement.

"It creates the circumstances in which the institutions can be revived.".

(MB/SP)

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