IRA’s Easter Message: We’ll Face Challenges But Britain Must Too
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ In their traditional Easter message, IRA commanders pledged Thursday to ``face whatever challenges and tasks lie ahead,″ but said Britain bears primary responsibility for forging peace in Northern Ireland.
The statement appeared on the front page of Republican News, the weekly newspaper of the Irish Republican Army and its affiliated Sinn Fein party.
IRA supporters will rally this weekend in the Irish Republic and in Roman Catholic parts of Northern Ireland to commemorate the Easter rising of 1916 against British rule.
``Our desire for freedom has outlived every British administration in Ireland and has faced down all the powerful resources pitted against us,″ the IRA’s ruling council said in the statement.
``Britain’s core responsibility logically dictates that they must face up to their role in any process aimed at finding a solution to the conflict.″
However, IRA sidestepped one issue _ whether it will agree to disarm _ that Britain officials have identified as critical to the success of the peace process.
The IRA killed about 1,800 people during its 24-year campaign to rid Northern Ireland of British rule before calling a halt to the violence in September. Pro-British Protestant groups killed about 900 people, mostly Catholics, before matching the IRA truce a month later.
Ireland on Thursday released seven more IRA prisoners early in recognition of the continuing cease-fire. The move leaves about 35 IRA members imprisoned in the Irish Republic.