Thursday, February 03, 2005

I.R.A. "Standing Tough"

The IRA has warned the British and Irish governments not to play down republican anger at the current setback to the Northern Ireland peace process, following Wednesday's statement saying it was withdrawing its promise to decommission its arms. It said on Thursday: "The two governments are trying to play down the importance of our statement because they are making a mess of the peace process. Do not underestimate the seriousness of the situation." The IRA's comments will increase concerns at a possible possible escalation of street violence. An Irish official said that while the IRA move made it unlikely there would be an early restoration of Northern Ireland's power sharing executive "the real worry is it will play out badly on the ground". The IRA warned on Wednesday: "We do not intend to remain quiescent within this unacceptable and unstable situation." Danny Morrison, a former Sinn Féin publicity officer and IRA member, said that in the unsuccessful November negotiations the IRA had been prepared to "instruct its volunteers that there could be no involvement whatsoever in activities which might endanger that agreement". But Michael McDowell, Irish justice minister and member of the smaller Progressive Democrat partners in the Irish coalition, said: Young men are being taken down alleys in Belfast by IRA volunteers and they're having their legs broken, and they're having bullets fired through their ankle joints and their knee joints and . . . hands. Am I to say that that doesn't endanger the Good Friday agreement? I can't accept that.