McGuinness tells IRA not to break ceasefire


Sinn Fein urged the IRA today not to return to violence after its withdrawal of a conditional offer to put its weapons beyond use.

"Sinn Fein is totally and absolutely opposed to any return to conflict," deputy leader Mr Martin McGuinness told Sky Television.

When pressed on whether he would "categorically" tell Republican paramilitaries and the Provisional IRA not to break the ceasefire, Mr McGuinness said he would tell all parties to avoid violence: "That is very strongly my position. Not just to people on the Republican side, but to people on the loyalist side, to undercover elements within the British military and to the British Army in South Armagh."

Efforts to forge a political settlement ground to a halt in December after a £26.5 million bank heist which has been blamed on the IRA.

Last week the outlawed guerrilla group withdrew a conditional offer to put its weapons beyond use, although the statement did not explicitly threaten to end its 1997 ceasefire.

Mr McGuinness said the political stalemate would not be broken by fresh unrest. "We believe the peace process is the best way forward."