Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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IRA Statement Belies the Nature of their Intentions

The recent statement from the IRA withdrawing their "offer" to resolve the arms issue came as no surprise to the victims of South Armagh. Though willing to be persuaded otherwise, it has been a firm belief of the victims that the IRA's intentions were suspect from the start. It is obvious that they had no intention to decommission their weapons, remove the structures of terrorism from society or address the mindset that contributed to so much suffering in Northern Ireland. While the IRA takes 'it's proposals off the table', you can be sure they are cocking the loaded gun under it.

The IRA still sees itself as a legitimate army with the inalienable right to murder for the good of the 'cause'. There is nothing in their actions or recent statements to instil confidence in the Protestant community; rather, in referring to the actions of the two governments and stating that they 'had no regards for the consequences', there is a heightened fear that they will intensify their campaign of terrorism once again. These fears are not without grounds - the IRA has been notorious for it's breaking of so-called ceasefires and for ruthlessly striving to achieve it's goals regardless of cost in human life.

The IRA's statement also comes at a time when confidence with security in the Province is at it's lowest ebb. Those who endured the sharpest edge of the onslaught in the South Armagh area have suffered the indignity of scaled-down security, and may be forgiven for believing that the policy-makers had deserted their wits in their clamour to bring the IRA to the table. The implications inherent in the IRA's threats leave law-abiding citizens alone and isolated in South Armagh, leaving a situation which FAIR had always predicted. In this uncertain time the watchtowers must go back up, the troops and police must be put on the ground, and the zero security situation put right. It is also time that Bertie Ahern's confidence-building promises made in the run-up to the Good Friday Agreement should be made good. He must shut down the arms dumps immediately that he knows about. Otherwise, should the IRA start using their arsenals again, he will be culpable and held to account.

The attempt by both Governments to focus on the criminality of the IRA falls far short of circumscribing their true nature and activities. This is not a time for ordinary people to forget that they are a viable, well-armed and fully-operational terrorist force, that they play on fear and prey on the weak, and that they are still fanatically dedicated to achieving their objectives. Hugh Orde has made their capabilities known in recent weeks, but stated that he did not believe they would go back to a campaign of terrorism. Guesswork should not be used when dealing with life and death situations, and particularly with the treacherous IRA. As Chief Constable he should know this more than anyone. But then, of course, he won't have to bury his loved ones when they do intensify the terror campaign.


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