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IRA Pulls Out of Talks on Disarmament

October 31, 2002|From Reuters

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — The Irish Republican Army broke off contact Wednesday with the international body overseeing disarmament in Northern Ireland, in the latest blow to peace efforts in the British province.

The IRA's decision to stop its slow-moving talks on scrapping weapons -- a key goal of Northern Ireland's 4-year-old peace accord -- followed widespread calls for the outlawed group to disband.

In a statement to the weekly Sinn Fein-IRA newspaper Republican News, IRA commanders said they were suspending negotiations because of what they called "an effort to impose unacceptable and untenable ultimatums on the IRA."

Britain and police chiefs called the move regrettable but predictable, while Protestant leaders said the IRA's determination to cling to its weaponry demonstrated why Protestants should not be expected to cooperate with the IRA-linked Sinn Fein political party.

The IRA blamed both Britain and Protestant leaders for fueling the crisis besetting the peace agreement, which proposed a joint Catholic-Protestant administration for Northern Ireland and the gradual disarmament of outlawed groups.

But the IRA, which has largely observed a cease-fire since 1997, said it "remains committed to the search for a just and lasting peace."

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