Ulster security posts being pulled down

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The Independent Online

Four security installations in Northern Ireland are being dismantled as a result of the IRA's decommissioning move - and work has already started.

Four security installations in Northern Ireland are being dismantled as a result of the IRA's decommissioning move - and work has already started.

The installations – some police stations and some Army posts – are in South Armagh, at Magherafelt and at Newtownhamilton.

The Northern Ireland Secretary, John Reid, said dismantling work had already begun at two of the posts. Work on the other two would start tomorrow.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said Tuesday's move by the IRA meant that the Government could now continue with the process of police reform, the implementation of the justice review and initially the changes to the four security installations identified at the talks at Weston Park during the summer.

Asked how long it would take to dismantle the installations, the spokesman said: "It is logistically and physically as quickly as possible."

The Prime Minister's spokesman told journalists: "There is no lack of will on our part to carry forward the process of normalisation, just as there is no lack of will in trying to implement the other bits of the (Good Friday) Agreement that apply to us."

Northern Ireland Secretary Dr John Reid will detail the Government's security response to the IRA announcement in a statement to the House of Commons later today.

The spokesman said that the Government remained alert to the threat posed by dissident paramilitary groups.

"There is a continuing threat from dissident republicans, just as there is a continuing threat from certain loyalist quarters.

"We have to remain vigilant about that ... in no way are we complacent about the nature of the threat from that area.

"Dissident republicans, just like dissident loyalists, will want to try to destroy what we have achieved. We have to stop them doing so."

The spokesman argued that yesterday's IRA announcement was a significant development.

"That is the important thing about yesterday. We can now say with confidence that all the elements of the Agreement made in 1998 are being implemented. That is why it was such a decisive step forward.

"There is now a route map for doing what is necessary to implement the Agreement."

On troop levels in the province, the spokesman said: "We do not want to keep troop levels any higher than they would be in any normal society for any longer than we have to.

"But we have to do it step by step. This is a process of building mutual trust. We will play our part, so long as the political process continues to move forward."

On the threat posed by loyalist paramilitaries, he added: "We believe there is no reason why they should not follow the example of the IRA and start a process of decommissioning, and we call on them to do so."

¿ The Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, has re-appointed his party's three ministers to Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive. Sir Reg Empey, Michael McGimpsey and Sam Foster again take up their respective portfolios of Enterprise, Culture and Environment.