Wednesday, February 01, 2006

IRA Sticking to Arms Pledge

BC-IRISH (UPDATE 2) UPDATE 2-IRA sticking to arms pledge, says N.Irish watchdog (Adds DUP, Sinn Fein comment) By Paul Hoskins and Adam Pasick DUBLIN, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Northern Ireland's ceasefire watchdog said on Wednesday the Irish Republican Army was keeping to a disarmament pledge it made last July but was still involved in spying and organised crime. The British government hailed a "sea change" by the guerrilla group, but a chilly reaction from Northern Ireland's biggest unionist party underlined the difficulty of breaking a political stalemate in the province. Dublin and London had hoped that the watchdog's findings would help build trust between opposing parties and kick-start talks on reviving a mothballed provincial government in which pro-Irish and pro-British opponents once shared power. "Like an oil tanker, the (IRA) will take a while to turn completely, and there is likely to be added turbulence in the wash as it does so," the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) said in a report. While there was evidence that individual members had retained weapons, the IMC said, it was satisfied IRA leaders still intended to "eschew terrorism" and had "a clear strategic intent to turn the organisation on to a political path."