Initial response

Sir Reg Empey has made his initial response to the IRA statement of this morning.

As far as the UUP is concerned actions speak louder than words. We have seen only their words today. Since the IRA has killed thousands and injured thousands more, it is inexcusable that the statement claims that its ‘armed struggle was entirely legitimate’ but fails to express a single word of remorse.

It also leaves fundamental questions unanswered. Where is the confirmation of the disbandment of the IRA? What evidence will the Unionist community see that all weapons have actually been destroyed?

Republicans should realise that, having eroded Unionist confidence to such an extent, we will only judge this statement on the basis of what happens next.

Above all, this statement is an admission of failure by Republicans. Their bloody campaign to try and break the will and resolve of the pro-Union community did not work. They are now facing this reality and retreating under a cloak of rhetoric and choreography.

Mr Paisley has also been somewhat sceptical in reply.

We will judge the IRA’s bona fides over the next months and years based on its behaviour and activity.