ULSTER PEACE TALKS: Governments greet a `useful' disarmament report

THE DE CHASTELAIN REPORT on decommissioning, published yesterday afternoon following a long wait, is viewed by the British and Irish governments as politically useful in looking ahead to both the possibility and the technicalities of disarmament.

Canadian General John de Chastelain, who in more than three years of involvement in Northern Ireland has developed a reputation for almost boundless patience, has made a number of helpful points for the governments' approach.

He cast no doubt on the intention of the IRA to disarm, and furthermore noted that the process of decommissioning may be deemed to have begun once an unambiguous commitment is made. In other words, decommissioning can be said to be under way in advance of guns actually being handed over or destroyed.

His report will therefore come to be seen as a key building block in the approach of Dublin and London to having decommissioning become a reality. The following is an edited text of his report:

The initial request for this report came from the two governments, pursuant to the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement. The Independent Commission on Decommissioning was asked specifically to comment on progress achieved to date and on prospects for future decommissioning. On 29 June the Commission was prepared to deliver its report to the British and Irish Governments, but the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach requested that delivery be deferred, in the belief that there would be developments having direct relevance to this report. This has proved to be the case.

On 1 July, Sinn Fein published a proposal in which they said the following: "... we believe that all of us, as participants acting in good faith, could succeed in persuading those with arms to decommission them in accordance with the Agreement. We agree that this should be in the manner set down by the Independent Commission on Decommissioning within the terms of the Good Friday Agreement."

In anticipation that this proposal may translate into a commitment to decommission paramilitary arms, the Commission believes that to complete its mandate by 22 May 2000, the process of decommissioning should begin as soon as possible.

The Decommissioning Scheme and Regulations approved by the two governments provide that the process of decommissioning is deemed to have commenced when the Commission is satisfied it has received notice of an intention to decommission arms on behalf of a paramilitary organisation, and that such notice contains sufficient information to indicate a clear intention to decommission specified arms.

The Commission will be guided by these provisions. It is the Commission's considered view that the "process of decommissioning" begins in connection with a paramilitary group when it (a) gives an unambiguous commitment that decommissioning will be completed by 22 May 2000, and (b) commences detailed discussions of actual modalities (amounts, types, location, timing) with the Commission through an authorised representative.

Once decommissioning commences as set forth above, the Commission expects corresponding moves from all republican and loyalist paramilitary groups.

In accordance with the Scheme and Regulations, the Commission foresees the process of decommissioning following a reasonably predictable agenda. We therefore envision the following steps:

(1) The designation of a point of contact who can speak authoritatively for the paramilitary group; (2) Discussions with the designated point of contact regarding: a. the scheme to be used (i.e., self destruction with Commission verification, or information leading to the discovery of arms by the Commission); b. Modalities (i.e., types and amounts of arms, location of the decommissioning event, timing, etc.); (3) Agreement to proceed with a specific event or events; (4) Execution of the decommissioning event(s); (5) Destruction of any residue; and (6) Reporting to the governments.

The developments of 1 July give the basis for believing that decommissioning can be completed in the time prescribed by the Good Friday Agreement. There is still sufficient time to do that, but there is a need to get started soon. The Commission is ready and willing to start. It has emphasised its intention to conduct decommissioning in a way that is honourable, safe, verifiable, complete and free from the fear of prosecution.

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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant - Global Leader - FTSE 250

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: As an Associate Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Representative

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family run school photogra...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - OTE £42,000

£28000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a leading s...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant -Engineering -Renewable Energy

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: As an Associate Recruitment C...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map