Challenge to IRA over arms


The Northern Ireland Secretary, Mr Peter Mandelson, has challenged the IRA not just to end terrorist activity but to begin decommissioning its weapons. As President Clinton arrived in Ireland, Mr Mandelson said difficulties in the political process and the Ulster Unionist sanction against Sinn Fein ministers attending North-South Ministerial Council meetings were triggered "just for the sake of a phone call" between the IRA and Gen John de Chastelain.

"These things need to be put right," he told BBC Radio Ulster. "We need to have clear evidence of IRA intentions in relation to decommissioning. That in turn will have an affect on our assessment of the security threat . . . In that context we will be able to move, and we will move." He cautioned against looking for a breakthrough in the political process during Mr Clinton's visit.

"I am not looking for a breakthrough or some great new peace deal. That's really not what we need," he said on BBC R4's Today programme. "What we need is gentle bits of movement on a number of key issues, a number of people's concerns addressed, so that we can overcome the problems we have at the moment.

"In this process we all strive for perfection, but, whether the issue is policing or decommissioning or making the institutions work, making perfection a precondition stops the process in its tracks. So I hope that people will move. I hope there will be a spirit of compromise and accommodation on all those issues."