In another blow to Northern Ireland’s tortuous peace process, the IRA has withdrawn an offer to scrap its weapons. Widely blamed for a huge bank robbery, it is accused by the British and Irish governments of standing in the way of progress. London and Dublin were slammed by Gerry Adams, of the IRA’s political ally Sinn Fein. “The two governments have opted for confrontation and they are engaged in this very sterile game of what is essentially trying to blame Republicans for everything that is wrong in this process without any regard at all for the consequences,” he said.
The IRA said it was taking a conditional offer to disarm off the table after its patience had been tried “to the limit.” Its strongly-worded statement did not, however, appear to put its 1997 ceasefire in imminent danger.
On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern claimed the outlawed group was the only obstacle preventing the revival of the province’s power-sharing government. The IRA denies involvement in the audacious raid on a bank in Belfast in which some 26.5 million pounds was stolen, that is the equivalent of around 38 million euros. But police say they believe the group was to blame – an assessment supported by both London and Dublin.