Dublin to free some IRA men by Christmas

Up to 30 IRA prisoners are to be released by the Dublin government in what it describes as ``a sensitive and enlightened approach'' to the cessation of IRA violence.

The Minister for Justice, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, confirmed last night that a number of prisoners could expect early release from their sentences, though she gave no exact figures. She also confirmed that talks were taking place with Sinn Fein about the disposal of weapons held by the IRA.

Around 60 IRA prisoners are held in the Irish Republic. The indications are that those sentenced for killing members of the Garda, the Irish police force, will not be among the first to be freed. ``I cannot put a number on it, as I have not made final decisions. But I can confirm that a number will be released between now and Christmas,'' she said.

Mrs Geoghegan-Quinn said in a television interview that the Irish government was in contact with Sinn Fein on the question of disposing of the republican movement's arsenal of weaponry. ``We are not talking about trading prisoners for guns, but the dismantling of IRA arsenals is being actively pursued,'' she said. ``It is being discussed with Sinn Fein.''

The moves demonstrate again that Dublin is intent on setting a faster pace in the peace process than the British government, which has made no public moves about prisoners. The Ulster Unionist MP Ken Maginnis said he was becoming increasingly worried by what he described as the Republic's piecemeal approach to the ceasefire, which was in contrast to John Major's more considered and structured attitude.

In Northern Ireland yesterday it was confirmed that many army bases had quietly dropped the practice of flying the Union Flag on a daily basis.

The flag no longer flies over the frontier town of Crossmaglen, or at many other military emplacements along the border. Republican and nationalist critics have complained that it was inappropriate in entirely nationalist districts, but the army said yesterday that the move was not a response to complaints.

Unionist charges that it showed the authorities were attempting to appease militant republicanism in the wake of the IRA ceasefire were denied by Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Sir Patrick presented the move as a reinterpretation of military guidelines which had been undertaken without political input.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager - Retail / FMCG / WMS Operations

£55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager - Retail / FMCG / WM...

Recruitment Genius: Fundraising and Campaigns Officer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Fundraising and Campaigns Off...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Appliance Service Engineer

£21000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This centre seeks an experience...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Analyst / Helpdesk Support Analyst

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is the UK's leading ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness