IRA Ceasefire: Joy and anger at historic move: Leaders of political and religious groups have given a mixed but often passionate response to yesterday's announcement

JUBILATION, relief, wary optimism, scepticism, disbelief and anger - the IRA's historic ceasefire provoked a predictably wide spectrum of reaction yesterday.

The Ulster Unionist leader James Molyneaux urged Mr Major not to accept the statement because it did not go far enough. Mr Major had 'no option' but to reject the IRA statement until it agreed the halt was permanent.

'He cannot accept it anyway because his declaration actually included that word, deliberately included that word,' he said. The IRA, Mr Molyneaux added, could have a complete cessation until the weekend or until the end of September. The Government could not accept what was said until it was confirmed it was permanent.

The Rev Ian Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, claimed not a single word in the IRA announcement said it was renouncing violence. 'I don't see in the document any renunciation of violence, I hear the salute to murderers,' he said. 'I see no suggestion whatsoever of a permanent cessation of violence. What we are seeing is a clever Jesuitical expression 'complete cessation of violence' - for how long? Permanent means for ever, complete means only for the time during which that particular situation is accepted.' He called for a referendum to be held on whether the province should remain British and said a civil war in Northern Ireland remained a possibility.

John Hume, the SDLP leader, said: 'When I read the statement I saw it as permanent in that it said they were announcing a complete cessation of their activities. It's a piece of news that will be welcomed by Irish people everywhere, but particularly the people in the streets of Northern Ireland. Now we face the primary challenge, which is to reach agreement among our divided people.'

Tony Blair, the Labour leader, said that, if carried through, the cessation of IRA violence would mark a moment of history in the search for peace in Northern Ireland. 'The test will come in whether the statement's welcome intentions do indeed lead to a permanent renunciation of violence and the full commitment of the IRA to the democratic process.'

Lord Holme, Liberal Democrat Northern Ireland spokesman, said: 'Any cessation in the murder and mayhem is very much to be welcomed,' but added: 'We don't yet know whether this is the permanent ceasefire which is really the precondition for the IRA joining the talks.'

The former Labour prime minister Lord Callaghan, who sent British troops into Northern Ireland, called on the Government to reassure the Protestant community to dispel any feelings of insecurity. He said: 'We must recognise that the IRA has been forced to concede it cannot win by the bomb. I thank God I have lived to see the day after 25 years when there is an opportunity to make a new start.'

However, the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) - the umbrella group which includes the outlawed Ulster Freedom Fighters and the Ulster Volunteer Force - said: 'The CLMC wish to make it clear that we will not be dancing to the Pan-nationalist tune . . . Is our constitution being tampered with or is it not? What deals have been done?.'

Dr John Alderdice, leader of the Northern Ireland Alliance Party, which draws its members from both communities, said: 'This is the announcement we have all been waiting for for nearly 25 years now.'

Cardinal Cahal Daly, Archbishop of Armagh and Catholic Primate of All Ireland, said: 'I am sharing in the rejoicing and relief which are surely being felt all over Ireland at the IRA's announcement of a cessation of violence on their part and a definitive commitment to the democratic political process. We humbly thank God who has heard the cry of his people for peace and has given us all this historic opportunity to work for a new future in this island.'

Dr Edward Daly, former Catholic bishop of Derry, said he felt like dancing at the ceasefire announcement. 'We can look forward to a bright future for the next generation and make up for the loss of so many lives that have been lost and ruined.'

Dr Robin Eames, the head of the Church of Ireland, said Northern Ireland was now entering a testing period during which the community would see whether the IRA's words were backed up by their actions.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Sales Advisor - OTE £35,000

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telephone Sales Advisor is re...

Recruitment Genius: Appointment Maker - OTE £20,000

£14000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An office based Appointment Mak...

Recruitment Genius: Healthcare Assistant

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This provider of care services is looking for...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings Administrator

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Purpose of Role: To co-ordinate maintena...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent