IRA hails members for giving up armed struggle


The IRA today hailed its volunteers for abandoning the armed struggle in the wake of the organisation's historic decision to decommission its weapons arsenal.

In a New Year message the Provisionals said they remained committed to their republican objectives and endorsed the work of Sinn Fein.

The paramilitary group also called on all political leaders to work towards progress in 2006.   The statement is the first from the IRA since September when General John de Chastelain announced the organisation had put its arms beyond use.

The move followed the groundbreaking announcement in July that the IRA had ordered an end to its armed campaign.

The latest statement, released through the republican newspaper An Phoblacht, said: "We salute the discipline and commitment of IRA volunteers, particularly following the momentous decisions by the Army leadership this year.

"We remain wedded to our republican objectives. We are confident that these objectives will be achieved.

"We fully support and commend everyone working for these goals, especially our comrades in Sinn Fein."

As well as sending New Year greetings to activists, supporters and republican prisoners, the IRA also called for continued unity and determination in the year ahead.

The statement also looks forward to commemorations in 2006 to mark the 25th anniversary of the hunger strikes and the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

Signed P O`Neill, it concluded: "There is an onus on all political leaders to play their part in achieving the essential political progress desired by all the people of Ireland."