Churchmen may attend IRA decommissioning

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Catholic and Protestant churchmen could be present at any future act of IRA decommissioning, it was revealed last night.

Catholic and Protestant churchmen could be present at any future act of IRA decommissioning, it was revealed last night.

It is understood that the republican movement would agree to them being present provided the disarmament was part of an overall package that would restore and guarantee power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

The British Government is due to present papers to Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) today outlining proposals aimed at getting the institutions up and running.

London and Dublin are looking for a decision before the end of the month and sources in Belfast confirmed last night that one of the proposals under consideration was that two churchmen, one from either side of the community, would be present if there was to be another act of decommissioning.

But it was made clear that this would have to be in the context of an overall deal, hammered out by all sides.

Gregory Campbell, MP for East Londonderry, said: "We need to have credible and viable decommissioning and there needs to be a visual aspect to it if we are to give confidence to the community ... There was a failure to do that in the past."

A Sinn Fein spokesman said the claims were speculation and refused to comment further.

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