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"In Ireland, however, we have ever seized upon mediocrities and made them our leaders."
- James Connolly


�A sequence of surrender�
Ex-prisoners reaction

Sharon O�Neill Simon Doyle and Seamus McKinney, Irish News


A FORMER IRA prisoner last night hit out at the IRA�s declaration that it has put arms beyond use.

Tommy Gorman, who founded the Irish writers group Forthwrite with former IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre, blasted the move announced by the provisionals.

�I think it is the last instalment of a sequence of surrender,� he said.

Anthony McIntyre, who left Forthwrite recently with Mr Gorman to set up a new magazine, claimed the IRA was bowing down to pressure.

Mr McIntyre, who describes himself as pro-peace but anti-Good Friday agreement, said:�As one of the people who have been expecting this for year I am philosophical about it. I am not surprised.�

�I don�t welcome the process that produced it, the Good Friday agreement. My main problem with the decommissioning issue is not that the IRA is getting rid of its weapons, I have a problem with the decommissioning aspect.

�I think when a war ends there is an onus on the people who fight the war to render their weapons obsolete.

�But this has not happened in this case. This is a response to pressure and decommissioning is the ideological mask or veil which the British and the unionists have used as a means to passing judgment on the legitimacy of the IRA campaign. It is an attempt to delegitimise that campaign.�

Paul Little of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) said:�IRA decommissioning is a matter for that organisation. We note the context in which the IRA is making this move.

�We would question that context in a sense that the peace process and the political institutions haven�t delivered in any way, shape or form for some nationalist communities, any measure of safety or security for a long time.

�Nationalist communities in north Belfast have been under an onslaught from loyalists. The proof of the pudding is if it (IRA move) delivers peace on the ground in north Belfast. There is no sign that is going to happen.�

Earlier, Ruairi O Bradaigh, president of Republican Sinn Fein, said: �The Provo sell-out is the worst yet � unprecedented in Irish history.�

Claiming other parties had betrayed republican principles he said: �None of them ever stooped to destroying weapons given to them to achieve Irish national independence.�

Other republican prisoners last night gave a guarded welcome to the IRA statement that the process to begin putting weapons beyond use had begun.

Former republican prisoners in south Armagh said an increase in

IRA members defecting to dissident groups was definitely �not on the cards�.

Senior republican figures in the border region said former prisoners like the majority of people in south Armagh had high expectations that the IRA�s move on arms would lead to a significant scaling down of the British military presence.

However, one ex-prisoner who is involved with the Cumann na Meirleach south Armagh prisoners group, but wished to remain anonymous, said republicans were viewing the statement of decommissioning within the context of the overall struggle and wanted to see movement on policing and equality as well as the demolition of the watchtowers.

He added that he could not envisage a mass defection to dissident groups like the Real IRA as a result of yesterday�s declaration that decommissioning had begun.

�People�s politics is what is uppermost in all of this. People are pushing the idea of divisions in republicanism as a result of this but that is not on the agenda at all. People are taking a studied view of this and will be making their individual division on whether they support this or not,� he said.

He added while demilitarisation was an important issue for many south Armagh republicans, it was not the only issue.

�Policing needs to be brought onto the agenda again as does the equality agenda, demilitarisation and justice. To take away two watchtowers in south Armagh would be a totally inadequate response,� he said.

In Derry, former republican prisoner and Civic Forum member, Donncha Mac Niallais welcomed the IRA statement.

Mr Mac Niallais, who served ten years in prison, said it was a worrying time for republicans.

�But I fully support the leadership in the principled moves they are taking to save the peace process...

�People will have misgivings given that the IRA had no obligation to carry out any moves to put arms beyond use and given the British government�s refusal to uphold the Good Friday agreement as well as the unionists� refusal and likewise the continuing pogrom against Catholics by loyalists,� he said.

Describing last night�s announcement as �courageous,� Mr Mac Niallais said: �I don�t feel let down. The republican movement still has as its objective the re-unification of Ireland.�




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