IRA dismisses weapons photographs as 'impossible'

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The Independent Online

The IRA today claimed that taking photographs of the completion of the destruction of its weapons would be impossible, and also described the suggestion as a "process of humiliation".

The IRA today claimed that taking photographs of the completion of the destruction of its weapons would be impossible, and also described the suggestion as a "process of humiliation".

In a statement released through the republican newspaper An Phoblacht, the organisation said that had there been a comprehensive peace process agreement it was prepared to move "into a new mode which reflects our determination to see the transition to a totally peaceful society".

However it claimed the Democratic Unionist leader, the Reverend Ian Paisley, had insisted on the photographing of weapons decommissioning as an excuse for his rejection of the deal to revive power-sharing.

The IRA also confirmed that it had been prepared to put its weapons all its weapons beyond use in a verifiable way, if possible, by the end of December.

Under the deal, IRA members would have also been given specific instructions not to engage in activity which could endanger the new agreement.

The group also confirmed that to "further enhance public confidence we agreed to the presence of two clergymen as observers during this process".

The IRA restated its commitment to the peace process. It commended its members and the wider republican base for their patience and discipline during what it described as "testing times".

"Our commitment, like theirs, to our republican objectives, is undiminished," the statement said.

It also paid tribute to those who it said had made genuine contributions to finding solutions to ongoing problems in the process.

"While acknowledging these efforts, we reiterate our view that progress cannot be made by pandering to the demands of those who are against change," the statement, using the pen name, P. O'Neill, said.

"The search for a just and lasting peace is a challenging one. The IRA leadership has risen to that challenge.

"The British Government and the leaders of unionism must do likewise."

Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said he still believed a deal was "inevitable", despite yesterday's setback.

He said that concerns among Mr Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party over the verification of IRA decommissioning could be overcome.

"One of the additional measures that is on offer is that civilian witnesses could join with General John de Chastelain and his staff. One of those civilian witnesses can be nominated by Ian Paisley's party," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"So we believe that in consideration of what is achievable here that Ian Paisley's party should very, very carefully indeed consider that, in fact, they do have that facility now.

"If they nominate the person, it is a question of whether they will believe their own witness."

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