Northern Ireland is looking to a new future following yesterday’s announcement by the IRA that it is abandoning its campaign of violence for a united Ireland for forever.The armed group called a ceasefire in 1997, but political wrangling over several issues, primarily IRA arms, has since stalled the peace process. It is now hoped that process will be relaunched and brought to a conclusion. But there is still some way to go before Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government – the cornerstone of the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement – can be re-established. Leaders of the Protestant community will want proof that the IRA’s weapons have been destroyed in line with the peace deal. There is speculation that an international ceasefire monitoring body – headed by retired Canadian General John de Chastelain – could confirm in September that all IRA weapons have been destroyed. The British army is now expected to accelerate the dismantling of observation posts and military bases across Northern Ireland. This has been a long-standing demand of the IRA – and the Catholic community in general. The IRA had previously baulked at demands that the decommissioning of its weapons be filmed. In a compromise it has now reportedly agreed to the destruction being witnessed by two clergymen – one Catholic, one Protestant.