IRA chieftains withheld their approval of the statement
IICD chairman General de Chastelain had prepared
for last Monday's press conference announcing the
completion of IRA decommissioning until he had removed
a paragraph which asserted that the IRA had given
him a personal assurance that all its weapons had
been put permanently beyond use.
General had intended to say in his statement given
to the British and Irish governments and read out
at last week's press conference in the Culloden
Hotel that he had sought, and had been given an
assurance from the IRA representative who liaises
with the decommissioning body that every single
one of the IRA's weapons had been given up to be
put out of action.
to sources familiar with the traffic between the
international decommissioning body and the Provo
leadership the IRA refused to accept the statement
until this claim was dropped. The dispute with de
Chastelain became heated and may have threatened
the announcement of full decommissioning until the
former Canadian General relented and agreed to the
de Chastelain then used the press conference question
and answer session to re-insert the assertion, a
move which has, the sources say, angered the Provisionals'
fact the General used the very first question he
was asked, about whether the IRA may have retained
weapons to defend Catholic areas from Loyalist attack
to make the claim.
said: "We put the question to the IRA, 'Are
we getting everything?'. We did so because in the
estimates that we received there was a range of
items. We had to be sure for ourselves that what
we got was what they had. They assured is that that
Provos' move to censor the head of the decommissioning
body will strengthen suspicions that the IRA is
once again attempting to employ deception in the
purpose may have been to give IRA leaders the room
within which they could mislead their grassroots
about the extent of decommissioning with an assurance
that only a portion of the organisation's arsenal
had been put beyond use. Another possible motive
is that the IRA has in fact lied to de Chastelain
about this matter and has not decommissioned every
weapon in its possession - but did not want the
lie to be put on record.
of this dispute comes as Ian Paisley's DUP has declared
itself to be less than satisfied that the IRA has
fully decommissioned, although sources in the party
are conceding that the testimony of the two clerical
witnesses suggests a major act of decommissioning
did in fact take place.
dispute between the IRA and the General also takes
place against a background replete with evidence
of lies and deception surrounding decommissioning.
After each of the previous three decommissioning
acts, each described by de Chastelain as genuine,
IRA leaders privately briefed their members that
this was not so, saying either that it had not taken
place at all, was of no significance or that IRA
engineers had fooled the General by supplying him
with fake weapons. The attempt to censor de Chastelain
strongly suggests the same may happen again this
statement issued by the IRA in the name of P O'Neill
after de Chastelain's press conference supports
this suspicion. It refers only to "arms"
being decommissioned, not "all arms".
It reads in full: