08 October 2005

INLA won’t dump arms

Daily Ireland

By Connla Young


BBC photo

The Irish National Liberation Army has no plans to put its arms beyond use, it was confirmed last night.
The group's position on the issue came when Eddie McGarrigle, a senior member of the group's political wing, the Irish Republican Socialist Party, said there was no appetite for such a move within the Republican Socialist Movement.
Speculation has mounted over what direction the INLA would take after the IRA put its weapons beyond use last week. Confirmation that the INLA will not decommission comes just days after Mr McGarrigle called on anti-Agreement republicans to bring their armed campaigns to a close.
In a letter published in Daily Ireland today Mr McGarrigle, who is based in Strabane, Co Tyrone, said a decision on decommissioning "will not be taken on a request from the nationalist, pro-Good Friday Agreement republicans".
Speaking to Daily Ireland last night Mr McGarrigle said decommissioning was a non-issue within the Republican Socialist Movement as long as unionist paramilitaries continued to pose a threat to nationalist communities.
“Anti-Good Friday Agreement republicans will not engage in decommissioning; it's not an issue at this time. Republicans have a duty to defend their communities against loyalists.
“While there is no appetite for armed conflict there remains an onus on republicans to defend their communities. This is especially the case given the history of the state and the fact that unionists are not engaging in the process of conflict transformation and there is a strong element of distrust in nationalist communities. At grassroots level this issue is not on the agenda at this time.
“Paisley's stance hardens attitudes. The attitude of unionist politicians to loyalist violence and weapons does little to fill people with confidence either. Republicans who have been outside the political process see no merit in it at all. All the signatories to the Good Friday Agreement said they would try to encourage decommissioning. But none of the signatories have ever approached the INLA or republican socialists and asked their opinion on the matter. The whole thing has been a red herring and directed at IRA weaponry. It was never raised as an issue with us, even in meetings with the governments."
The IRSP man also renewed his call for anti-Agreement republicans not on ceasefire to call off their campaigns.
“I would again call on them to end their campaigns and to talk to other anti-Agreement republicans. The time for armed struggle is not at the moment. There is also an onus on provisional republicans to persuade other republicans that the conflict can be resolved through the stepping stone strategy they use."
The INLA has remained relatively inactive since they called a ceasefire in 1998. While the INLA's arsenal may not match that of the IRA's, it is understood they have several hundred small arms and automatic weapons as well as access to explosives.

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