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
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

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links