'Positive intelligence' on IRA decommissioning - Hain

 

The British Secretary of State for the North Peter Hain has said he had received positive intelligence about IRA decommissioning.

Speaking after talks at Stormont Castle with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern, the Secretary of State said he was optimistic progress was being made.

Mr Hain identified the Independent Monitoring Commission report in January as a critical moment as it would indicate whether the organisation's historic statement was being transformed into reality.

Speaking in Belfast tonight, Mr Hain said: "So far, in the first six or seven weeks (since the IRA statement), the signs are quite good and the reports and information I have had would seem to suggest that it is being delivered on the ground."

Mr Hain's comments come as Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams prepares to address supporters in south Armagh and at a rally in Dublin city centre on Saturday - heightening the growing belief that the Provisionals are close on delivering on the pledge of nearly two months ago to dump all arms after declaring an end to its campaign.

Mr Adams, with Kerry TD Martin Ferris, briefed IRA inmates in Castlerea Prison yesterday on "peace process developments".

In the coming days he will engage in a series of events which the British and Irish governments see as preparing the ground for IRA disarmament.

Asked if he was confident the Provisionals will move soon on decommissioning, Mr Hain said: "What is important is that they move not just sooner rather than later but that they move with credibility.

"That everybody, even those most sceptical and suspicious, can be convinced that the promises to dump arms on July 28 are genuinely being implemented and that decommissioning is a major and momentous event. And let's hope that it is."

On the timescale for the potential return of power-sharing the minister said: "Well, I have said all along is that I don't think this will happen in weeks but it cannot happen in years. "Northern Ireland cannot be caught paralysed politically in so many other ways for a long period of time."