INLA 'has ended armed struggle' says statement from organisation


THE INLA has ended its armed struggle, according to a statement issued on its behalf yesterday.

The announcement was made in Bray, Co Wicklow, by Martin McMonagle, from Derry, a member of the executive of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement (IRSP). He said he knew nothing of any plans the INLA might have to decommission weapons.

However, senior official sources in Belfast said they understood that the INLA had already been in contact with Gen John de Chastelain’s decommissioning body.

One senior source said there was a British government expectation that the INLA would begin the decommissioning process in the coming months.

Addressing the Bray gathering, Mr McMonagle said: “The RSM (republican socialist movement) has been informed by the INLA that following a process of serious debate, consultation and analysis, it has concluded that the armed struggle is over and the objective of a 32-county socialist republic will be best achieved through exclusively peaceful political struggle.

“The RSM agree with this analysis and are fully supportive of the move to build a left-wing party that has a clear objective of a 32-county socialist republic based on the principles of equality, justice, inclusion, human rights and dignity.”

Mr McMonagle read a statement to a group of about 60 people at the annual commemoration for former INLA leader, Séamus Costello.

Costello was shot dead in Dublin in 1977.

The group gathered outside the Town Hall and then marched to the local cemetery where Costello is buried. The march included a colour party, with the traditional black ties and berets, a flute band and a number of people carrying wreaths which were placed on the grave.

Mr McMonagle said that in 1994, the INLA put in place a no-first-strike policy and called a complete ceasefire in 1998.

“Both of these decisions were based on its political analysis and monitoring of the changing military and political environment,’’ he added.

Mr McMonagle said that the future struggles will be political.

“We urge all comrades, members, volunteers and supporters to join the political struggle ahead with the same vigour, commitment and courage that was evident in our armed struggle against the British state,’’ he added.

The statement was welcomed last night by Ictu general secretary, David Begg, and president Jack O’Connor.

Mr Begg said that congress had consistently condemned violence as a means to achieve political ends over the past four decades.

“This commitment from the RSM is another milestone in the process of building a sustainable, inclusive peace,” he said.

Mr O’Connor said that congress believed peace, equality and justice were the fundamental building blocks of a new society.