Irish paramilitary group the IRA should have finished decommissioning all its weapons by Christmas. British Prime Minister Tony Blair made the announcement as he presented plans with Irish leader Bertie Ahern on restoring devolved government to Northern Ireland. But while he described the proposals as a remarkable step forwards, he admitted the process was not over: “There has to be a complete and definitive end to all paramilitary activity, and in those circumstances and on the basis on agreement the IRA would move into a new and peaceful mode. We have an agreement the decommissioning should be done, and it should be completed by this Christmas.”
But this was not the historic agreement that had been hoped for. DUP leader Ian Paisley is unconvinced the IRA will actually get rid of its weapons: “It’s quite clear the IRA are not going to decommission. Nothing on decommissioning was agreed with them. Nothing. Not only the photographs – having or not to have photographs – but nothing.”
Sinn Fein said photographing the destruction of weapons would have been humiliating for the IRA. The 30-year long sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland was all but brought to an end by the 1998 Good Friday agreement.