“Recent allegations that the IRA is in breach of its public commitments are false. The IRA has honoured all public commitments made on the 28th July 2005. Any allegations to the contrary are politically motivated”.
The IICD told Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain and Minister for Justice Michael McDowell: “Last week we were informed by security sources in Northern Ireland that they had intelligence to the effect that some individuals and groups within the IRA have retained arms including handguns.
“There was no indication that the quantities of arms involved were substantial. We were also told there is no suggestion these arms (purportedly kept for personal protection and area defence) have been retained with the approval of the IRA’s leadership or as part of a wider strategy to return to violence.”
The commission said it raised the claim with the Gardaí, whose intelligence last year had indicated the IRA went to great lengths to locate and gather all the weapons, which were put beyond use.
General de Chastelain, his American colleague Andrew Sens and Finnish Brigadier Tauno Nieminen, said: “The Garda informed us that what they regard as reliable sources in relation to the IRA and its weaponry have produced no intelligence suggesting any arms have been retained.”
The IICD also spoke to the IRA itself:
The commission said it also met an IRA representative twice last week who insisted all the arms that were dumped following the organisation’s July statement were collected and put beyond use.
The representative also insisted no weapons were retained and hidden in secret arms dumps.
The IICD revealed: “In a meeting later in the week the representative told us that following our earlier discussion the IRA leadership questioned each of their commanders about the intelligence assessment.
“These have confirmed that all the arms under their control were decommissioned in September, as we stated.
“We are reassured by the fact that none of the various intelligence assessments suggest the IRA leadership is moving away from its July 28 commitments.
“We conclude that in the absence of evidence to the contrary our September 26 assessment regarding IRA arms remains correct.”
The IICD reminded both governments, however, that in September it did not discount the possibility that a small number of the IRA’s weapons may have gone astray over the years as custodians died or the locations of some its arms caches were lost.