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Thursday, August 26, 1999 Published at 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Mowlam statement in full

Dr Mowlam will keep the IRA's position "under close review"

The Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam, made the following statement on the IRA ceasefire:

In the light of recent events, including the savage and disgraceful murder of Charles Bennett and the arrests in the United States and Ireland of people suspected of smuggling arms, I have reviewed the state of the IRA ceasefire with my security advisors.

The Search for Peace
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I have also received information from the United States and Irish Governments on these cases.

Given the forthcoming court proceedings in both cases, it would be wrong for me to comment in detail about allocation of responsibility for these crimes.

There have been occasions in the past when I have been very concerned about the status of the IRA's ceasefire, and indeed that of other paramilitary organisations.

'Utterly deplorable'

The available information in the past has not been of sufficient strength to give me a full picture.

But in this case the information is already clear and indeed the chief constable has said that there is no doubt that the IRA were involved in the Bennett murder.

Information is also clear in relation to the arms importation.

Both are utterly deplorable and incompatible with the society that all are striving to develop under the Good Friday Agreement.

I have left Sinn Fein in no doubt that all violence, for whatever reason it is perpetrated, is unacceptable, and have called on them to use their influence to ensure that there is no repetition.

'Not a sufficient basis'

At the same time, it should be remembered that the Sentences Act requires me to reach an overall judgement about the status of any organisation's ceasefire.

I can and must take account of all the factors specified in the act in arriving at such a judgement. That is what I have done, in accordance with the legislation, not in accordance with anyone else's definition.

On that basis, although the situation in relation to the IRA is deeply worrying, I do not believe that there is a sufficient basis to conclude that the IRA ceasefire has broken down.

Nor do I believe that it is disintegrating, or that these recent events represent a decision by the organisation to return to violence.

Political process

I have therefore decided not to use my powers under the Sentences Act at this time. But I want to make entirely clear that I have come very close to judging that the IRA's ceasefire is no longer for real.

I will therefore be keeping their position under close review, as required by the act, and will not hesitate to act decisively where I consider that their, or any other, ceasefire has broken down.

The peace we have now is imperfect, but better than none.

If violence continues, the political process - which depends on confidence and trust - will be increasingly at risk.

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