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IRA Concerned Over British, Peace Plan

January 1, 2004

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ The Irish Republican Army expressed ``deep concern″ Wednesday over the British government’s handling of peacemaking efforts in Northern Ireland.

In its traditional New Year’s statement, the outlawed IRA reiterated it scrapped an unknown amount of weaponry last October in cooperation with disarmament officials. The IRA charged that Britain did not respond to the disarmament move by advancing other goals of the province’s 1998 peace accord.

The IRA did not specify those goals in its statement. Repeatedly in the past, the IRA and its allied Sinn Fein party have called on Britain to make more cutbacks in military forces, impose sterner reforms on the province’s mostly Protestant police force, and provide an amnesty for IRA fugitives wanted for outstanding crimes.

In its statement issued to journalists in Dublin and Belfast, the IRA said it offered disarmament officials ``the largest amount of arms to date″ last October. But it said others, chiefly the British government, ``have not honored their part of it.″

``Consequently there has been no progress on a range of issues involved,″ the IRA said.

The central objective of the 1998 peace deal _ to sustain a stable Catholic-Protestant administration for the British territory _ has failed, partly because of the IRA’s refusal to disarm fully as the pact proposed.

A power-sharing administration led by Northern Ireland’s two major moderate parties _ the Protestants of the Ulster Unionists and the Catholics of the Social Democratic and Labor Party _ fell apart in October 2002 after police accused Sinn Fein of aiding an IRA intelligence-gathering operation inside the government.

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