IRA will allow inspectors to check its arms dumps again

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The Independent Online

The IRA confirmed yesterday that it will allow the reinspection of some of its arms dumps by the international monitors, Cyril Ramaphosa and Martti Ahtisaari. Their statement came as Tony Blair prepared to fly to Belfast for talks today.

The IRA confirmed yesterday that it will allow the reinspection of some of its arms dumps by the international monitors, Cyril Ramaphosa and Martti Ahtisaari. Their statement came as Tony Blair prepared to fly to Belfast for talks today.

These developments signalled an acceleration in the pace of political events in the run-up to Saturday's vital meeting of the Ulster Unionist council, when David Trimble's critics in the UUP will be on the attack.

The IRA criticised the Government for allegedly not living up to its undertakings but said its own actions showed republican commitment to a just peace settlement. It added: "The significance of these decisions should not be underestimated or undervalued."

The IRA did not spell out when the second inspection would take place, although the fact that the Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, said he thought the organisation "will not dilly-dally" encouraged hopes that it could happen today or tomorrow.

Such timing would clearly represent a significant boost for Mr Trimble's argument that progress is being made on the arms issue. The fact that he prevailed at the last council meeting by the narrow margin of 53 per cent to 47 per cent is taken as indicating that this time he will need all the help he can get to survive.

Mr Trimble's party officially welcomed the IRA announcement but said the second inspection should deal with dumps additional to those already seen by the monitors.

Anti-Trimble Unionists will put forward a motion seeking to impose a timetable for actual IRA arms decommissioning, attempting to commit the party to withdraw from the Northern Ireland Executive if this does not happen.

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