IRA still wants peace - Sinn Fein

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The Independent Online

Unionist doubts about the IRA's commitment to peace should be allayed by the fact that the terrorist group's ceasefire remains intact, Sinn Fein claimed last night.

The party's national chairman, Mitchel McLaughlin, was responding to calls for republicans to demonstrate their commitment.

"I take comfort that, despite the obvious anger and frustration at Peter Mandelson's decision in February to unilaterally tear down the institutions and despite the threat of loyalist attacks against republicans, the IRA's ceasefire is intact," he said. "That is something we should all be taking into account."

Mr McLaughlin, who was in London for a conference organised by the Friends of the Good Friday Agreement, spoke after a succession of pro-agreement Unionists called on republicans to show they were committed to achieving a lasting peace.

David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist Party leader and the province's First Minister, was the first to call on paramilitary-linked parties to say what proposals they had to "deliver a peaceful society in Northern Ireland instead of what they want as preconditions for movement on the decommissioning issue".

His Northern Ireland Assembly and party colleague, Sir Reg Empey, also indicated that the province's power sharing executive could be restored swiftly if republicans were to deal with decommissioning not as a surrender but in a way which would "prove to people that there is a genuine commitment to exclusively peaceful means".

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