IRA condemns Major's backing for unionist


STATING that it was appropriate at the start of the new year to "again reaffirm our steadfast commitment to our republican objectives," the IRA said in its New Year message in An Phoblacht: "Our primary objective remains the reunification of our country. We reiterate also our commitment to the establishment of a just and lasting peace in Ireland.

"Time and again in the past we have demonstrated clearly that we will face up to our responsibilities either in the direct pursuit of our objectives or in assisting in the development of the conditions necessary for the establishment of a meaningful process with the potential for securing a lasting settlement to the conflict in Ireland."

The IRA issued a strong attack on the British Prime Minister, Mr John Major, and his government's handling of the Northern Ireland peace process and made clear it has no faith in the Tory government. It said the British government is "firmly opposed" to the development of the required process to secure a lasting settlement and was committed to underpinning the unionist agenda.

The opportunity for lasting peace created by our initiative of August 31st 1994 (the IRA ceasefire)" had been "gradually strangled to the point of extinction" by Mr Major and his Cabinet "long before our decision to resume military operations".

But the IRA said it remained committed to the establishment of "a just and lasting peace in Ireland" and commended those still trying to put together "a meaningful process" aimed at securing a lasting peace settlement.

It stressed: "Lasting peace requires an inclusive negotiated settlement. There can be no preconditions on participation in such negotiations."

The IRA said it was approaching 1997 "unified, confident and steadfast in our commitment to succeed".

The message opened with an extension of greetings to the IRA's friends and supporters "at home and abroad" and to republican prisoners. It also said its thoughts were with the families of IRA Volunteers Edward O'Brien and Diarmuid O'Neill "who tragically lost their lives in the last year."

The IRA said it had "with reluctance" announced on February 9th last year an end to its complete cessation of military operations.

It said events since the ending of the ceasefire had demonstrated a continuing lack of political will, on the part of the British, to put together a meaningful peace process.

"They remain both firmly opposed to the development of the required process and also committed to underpinning the unionist agenda in whatever process takes root in its place, nowhere better exemplified than at Drumcree, on the Ormeau Road and in Derry in the summer months of last year."