Second IRA arms dump inspection completed

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The Independent Online

The IRA today confirmed it had allowed a second inspection of its arms dumps.

The IRA today confirmed it had allowed a second inspection of its arms dumps.

It happened just 24 hours after the Provisionals said they had agreed to it.

The move came as Prime Minister Tony Blair prepared for crunch meetings with Northern Ireland party leaders in Belfast.

An IRA statement said the inspection had taken place in the context of commitments made by the British and Irish Republic governments.

But it added: "To date, the British Government has not honoured the commitments it entered into.

"It is not the responsibility of the IRA alone to enhance the peace process. Others must also play their part.

"This initiative represents clear and irrefutable evidence of the IRA's commitment to a just and equitable peace settlement."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "We and the Irish government understand from the Decommissioning Commission that a second inspection of IRA dumps has now taken place, that they have received a report to that effect from President Ahtisaari and Cyril Ramaphosa.

"The Commission will be reporting in writing to the governments later today and that report will be published."

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams warned Unionists that if they set a deadline for decommissioning over the coming months they would be throwing the peace process into "red alert".

Mr Adams, attending the launch of plans for a major commemoration of the IRA hunger strikes in 1980 and 1981, criticised moves by anti-Good Friday Agreement Ulster Unionists to persuade their ruling council to force a withdrawal from the power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland on November 30 if there is no disarmament.

The West Belfast MP said: "If the Ulster Unionist Council meets and places deadlines and makes the process conditional upon the IRA doing certain things within a certain time-frame set by the Ulster Unionist Council, then what they are doing is setting the self-destruct button for the process on red alert.

"It will not work that way. We all know that.

"Those who are putting these proposals know that also."

The Sinn Fein leader also expressed "concern" about how the British Government was handling the process.

Ahead of his meeting in Belfast later today with Prime Minister Tony Blair, he said: "I share the need to keep pro-agreement Unionists part of, and with ownership of the process, but the process cannot be changed.

"You cannot have issues like the flags, policing - touchstone issues - subverted or troops kept in Nationalist areas to placate Unionism.

"So I think that there are a number of issues of concern for anybody who is in the coal-face of trying to make this thing work, but the Unionists will have to try and learn when something happens that is positive and is a good news story, they have to embrace it with some grace."

Mr Adams said the IRA's offer yesterday for a second arms inspection of its weapons dumps was significant.

He also said it should not be underestimated how difficult that offer was for many Republicans.