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Statement by Mark Durkan on the Decommissioning of Weapons by the IRA, (26 September 2005)

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Text: Mark Durkan... Page compiled: Brendan Lynn

Statement by Mark Durkan, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), on the Decommissioning of Weapons by the IRA, (26 September 2005)


"Today is that most rare thing in the politics of the north, a day of optimism and hope. I warmly welcome the announcement of IRA decommissioning. The gun is at last being taken out of Irish politics. This vindicates all of us who have always argued for a peaceful way forward. Those of us who have always been clear that decommissioning was a requirement of the Good Friday Agreement.

Just last February, the IRA warned the Irish people not to underestimate the seriousness of the situation. The Irish people didnít. They stood firm for an end to guns. Now their strong stand has been rewarded.

Todayís events also demonstrate the utter futility of violence. Violence never won anything in the north. Violence does not pay. It costs. In lives lost, in economies ruined, in communities wrecked. Thatís something that so many victims of the troubles know too well. Today as we look forward, we must not leave them behind - isolated and forgotten.

Itís something the loyalists need to learn. The best thing they can do now to free their communities of poverty and fear is to give up the drug dealing, the racketeering, intimidation and murder and destroy their guns.

As with so much in the north, todayís hope is mixed with frustration. Frustration that the IRA did not move sooner. It is not that we are two months on from the IRA statement, it is that we are 64 months on from the decommissioning deadline in the Agreement.

How much better a position we would all be in if the IRA had acted then. How much better a place the north would be today.

But thatís the past - and we have to look to the future. The real question is how we get to a better place now. The answer is simple. Itís got to be full speed ahead with the Agreement. In the past, the UUP were able to block the Executive. Then the provisional movement were allowed to stall decommissioning. The DUP must not get away with holding back progress now. We have to get politics working again without delay."


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