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IRA move spurs efforts on peace deal
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-30 07:22

The Irish Republican Army's promise to end armed struggle breathed new life into efforts to restore self-rule in Northern Ireland, but decades of sectarian mistrust mean words must be backed by action.

Sinn Fein's deputy leader and chief negotiator Martin McGuinness (L) stands with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in New York July 29, 2005. [Reuters]
Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern planned to meet the moderate nationalist SDLP party on Friday morning to discuss what happens following the IRA's historic pledge.

Mindful of previous broken IRA promises, politicians say the outlawed group must now back words with action. But the onus is not all on them: Britain and Ireland have committed to fulfil promises delayed by the IRA's failure to disarm.

"There are difficult issues to be addressed. These include policing, the end to loyalist paramilitary activity and the restoration of the political institutions," Ahern said.

However, proving the IRA's deed is as good as its word remains the major challenge and restoring a local government that has been on ice for the past three years will take time.

"We will judge the IRA's bona fides over the next months and years based on its behaviour and activity," said fire-and-brimstone cleric Ian Paisley, leader of the province's main Protestant party, the pro-British Democratic Unionists (DUP).

Paisley's DUP, who did not sign up to the Good Friday Agreement that helped cement peace in the province, refuse to sit in government with their Catholic opponents Sinn Fein until the IRA proves it has disposed of all of its weapons, forever.
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