IRA on the brink of ending paramilitary activity and decommissioning its arsenal
The British and Irish governments hope the announcement, now believed to be imminent, will be strong and unambiguous enough to inject a burst of new momentum into the stalled peace process.
The thrust of the announcement has been thrashed out in intensive contacts between Tony Blair and his officials and Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. The central point is that the IRA will declare an end to illegal actions such as recruiting, training and surveillance, as well as promising an end to activities such as bank robberies and similar criminality.
The IRA is expected to say it is putting its entire weapons cache beyond use in weeks. That will be verified by the decommissioning expert General John de Chastelain, who has already witnessed three partial acts of decommissioning. Although he acted alone before, this time he is expected to have a Catholic priest and a Protestant minister as other witnesses.
The Government is poised to react with a battery of security relaxations that will include the demolition of military watchtowers along the border, and an agreement to permit "on the run" republicans to return to Northern Ireland. The hope is that the IRA moves will impress the Rev Ian Paisley, whose Democratic Unionist party is now the undisputed leader of Unionist politics. He alone can pave the way for a new devolved government dominated by his party and Sinn Fein.
But he is not expected to agree to that immediately and is, instead, expected to watch for some months to verify that illegal IRA activity has ceased. The authorities will ask the International Monitoring Commission to confirm that the IRA has gone out of operation.
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 4 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
- 5 Ayyan Ali: Pakistan's top model now appears in the courtroom rather than on the catwalk
Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
Caitlyn Jenner's mother Ester thought her daughter, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, had transitioned for money
Charles Kennedy 1959-2015: A gifted, compassionate politician whose career was cut short by the 'demon drink' - latest news
Charles Kennedy dead: A guy once asked the Lib Dem leader who his favourite Muppet was and his letter response was wonderful
Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...