Once again the political institutions created by the Northern Ireland peace agreement are in crisis. The leading unionist party is threatening to pull out of the government, all the while blaming the Irish Republican Army and its political agent, the Sinn Fein party. It is time for the IRA to give the political process a fair chance by giving up the bulk of its weapons, especially the bomb-making Semtex explosive.
The urgency of IRA action was underlined by the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. If the United Kingdom ... decides it can no longer allow a terrorist force on its soil, the Bush administration would be obliged to crack down on fund-raising in the United States.
The IRA has refrained from sectarian attacks despite ample provocation from unionist thugs in the ethnic no-man's-lands of North Belfast. ... Yet the obvious capacity of the IRA to resume violence whenever it wants to do so empowers paramilitaries on the other side to maintain their hold over unionists who see themselves under threat from nationalists. ... The IRA maintains that it is no threat to the peace process, but it cannot disclaim responsibility for the distrust that poisons the political atmosphere in Northern Ireland more than three years after the ratification of the Good Friday peace agreement. ...
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