IRA has taken massive and courageous step - Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin has welcomed the announcement that the IRA had puts its weapons beyond use. He said it was a “massive and courageous step” and urged both governments and all parties to respond positively and fully implement the Good Friday Agreement.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“The Irish Republican Army has taken a massive and courageous step. By putting its weapons beyond use the IRA has fulfilled its commitment made on 28 July last. It has provided a golden opportunity to advance the stalled peace process significantly. I urge all parties and both Governments to seize this opportunity and to work together to fully implement the Good Friday Agreement.
“This was a hugely difficult decision for republicans to make. I know that many republicans who have fully supported the Sinn Féin peace strategy from the beginning will be feeling that yet again republicans have had to leap first. But I would urge all republicans to see this development for what it is – a brave act of faith in the ability of Irish republicans to move forward together to our goal of Irish unity and independence by peaceful means.
“The knee-jerk reaction of the DUP has been predictably negative. Rather than respond to that I would prefer to give the DUP space to absorb the enormity of what has taken place. Now is the time for them to give real leadership to the people they represent. That can only be done by engaging directly with the representatives of Sinn Féin. Such engagement is inevitable and it should happen sooner rather than later.
“The Irish Government has a special responsibility in the wake of this hugely significant development. For too long some in this Government has handled the peace process with one eye to the next General Election in the 26 Counties and with a desire to limit the growth of Sinn Féin. The anti-republican agenda of Michael McDowell has been allowed to dominate. This must change.
“The Taoiseach needs to renew his commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and fulfil his own Government’s obligations. This should include:
· Vigorously pursuing the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement with a clear focus on the need for the Unionist leadership to shoulder its responsibility to share power and work with the All-Ireland structures, and on the need for the British government to fulfil all of its responsibilities. Among those British responsibilities is the completion of British demilitarisation.
· Advancing the All-Ireland agenda on all fronts by acting now to develop co-ordination and integration of infrastructure and public services on an island basis, encouraging a similar process in the private sector and the voluntary and community sector.
· Fulfilling his commitment made in 1998 to advance the issue of Six-County representation in the Oireachtas. Speaking rights in the Dáil for all Six-County MPs should be provided for without further delay.
· Publishing a Green Paper on Irish Unity – setting out a Government strategy for Irish reunification.
· The repeal of the Offences Against the State Acts.”