IRA decommissioning complete - de Chastelain
Monday, September 26, 2005
The Chairman of the decommissioning body, General John de Chastelain met representitives of both governments, before releasing details of the report at a press conference in Belfast. A partial catalogue of the arms stock was included, as well as the statements of two independent observers present at the decommissioning process. The observers are a Catholic priest, and a Methodist minister.
Both witnesses stressed their independence and de Chastelain commented that it was clear from their observations that the weapons had been gathered from individuals and put beyond use. De Chastelain refused to be drawn on details of the exact numbers of weapons decommissioned, the IRA having agreed to decommissioning based on confidentiality. The decommissioning panel did make comments that the weapons decommissioned did correspond with the estimates of weapons held, included a mix of new and old weapons, including surface to air missiles and heavy machine guns.
General de Chastelain, along with Andrew Sens and Tauno Nieminen, has been in Ireland overseeing this latest round of decommissioning since September. Before now, they had been allowed to witness three acts of decommissioning. However, lack of details in the reports provided afterwards meant that opponents questioned the moves.
Statements from both governments, as well as the major Northern Irish political leaders, are expected later on Monday.
The IRA announced that it was calling an end to its armed campaign in July, and ordered members not to take part in any other activities. The Unionist paramilitary UDA had withdrawn from the decommissioning after initial talks in 1999. de Chastelain indicated inventory of decommissioned weapons will not be published until full paramilitary decommissioning is complete.
During the press conference, General de Chastelain faced critics who questioned the truthfulness of the process. He responded with "We have no Doubt ... We have nothing to gain by misleading you."
- "IRA's final weapons move unfolds" — , September 26, 2005
- "DeChastelain to confirm IRA decommissioning" — , September 25, 2005
- Paul Hoskins. "Monitors present IRA arms disposal report" — , September 25, 2005