Dublin and London seek clarification from IRA


The IRA was today asked to provide further clarification on the statement it issued to Dublin and London last night.

It shows that much progress has been made and reflects a desire to make the peace process work.
Joint statement from the Irish and British governments.

"The governments welcome the positive aspects of the IRAstatement" said a joint statement.

"It shows that much progress has been made and reflects a desire to make the peace process work," it said, adding: "The governments are seeking clarification on a number of points."

Sinn Fein's national chairman Mr Mitchel McLaughlin said any reasonable questions the governments had about the IRA's statement were likely to get reasonable answers.

"At this stage I don't know the precise detail of what their questions are but reasonable, sensible questions deserve reasonable, sensible answers and I wish our reasonable and sensible questions had always got an answer. I think that this process requires that," he said.

Last night the IRA announced it had drafted its final position and passed it confidentially on to Dublin and London. The organisation then released a media statement saying its statement sent to the governments dealt with four issues.

These were: the current status of the IRA ceasefire, the future approach of the organisation, its view on re-engagement with the international decommissioning body and a third act of disarmament.

The Taoiseach held a telephone conversation this morning with the British Prime Minister about the publication of the governments' blueprint.

A Government spokeswoman told ireland.comMr Ahern held a "lengthy telephone conversation with Prime Minister Blair this morning and is now meeting with his own officials to discuss the situation."

In the North, Ulster Unionist Party leader Mr David Trimble met members of his Assembly party, while US President George W Bush's special adviser on Northern Ireland Ambassador Richard Haass also met politicians including SDLP leader Mr Mark Durkan.

Sinn Féin's Mr Gerry Adams and Mr Martin McGuinness also arrived as Mr Haass left Parliament Buildings in Stormont.

Northern Secretary Mr Paul Murphy was expected to make a statement in the House of Commons, London later today.

Mr Blair and Mr Ahern had hoped to travel to Hillsborough Castle last Thursday to publish a blueprint of proposals for implementing the Belfast Agreement.

These covered the scaling down of the British army presence in the North, the stability of the political institutions, policing, justice, equality, human rights and a scheme to enable IRA fugitives who fled Northern Ireland to return home.

However, when the two leaders decided not to travel, the IRA was accused of drafting a statement which fell well below unionist expectations.

The Provisionals last night insisted they had "shared concepts and draft elements" with the governments and were now ready to issue publicly the final statement once the governments had responded.