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Irish Republican Army (IRA) New Year Statement, 8 January 1998

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Research: Brendan Lynn

Full text of Irish Republican Army (IRA) New Year Statement
8 January 1998

The leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann extends New Year greetings to our friends and supporters at home and abroad.

We send solidarity greetings to our imprisoned comrades in Ireland, England and USA.

We remember with pride Volunteer Patrick Kelly who died during the past year as a direct result of the denial of medical treatment while imprisoned in England and send our warmest wishes to his family.

We congratulate Liam Averill and his fellow POWs in the H Blocks on their recent success in effecting his escape from jail.

We leave 1997 behind conscious that many nationalists are impatient with the lack of progress in the negotiations process.

We reiterate our belief that the root cause of conflict in Ireland is the British military and political occupation of part of our country. Eight centuries of history stand as irrefutable testimony to the belief that a united independent Ireland, free from British interference, and ruled by and for the people of this island, offers the best guarantee of the establishment of a just and lasting peace in Ireland. Equally 75 years of Unionist misrule and its accompanying suppression of democracy stand as a stark reminder that no internal settlement can deliver justice, equality or peace.

We reiterate also our belief that all-party inclusive negotiations are crucial to the resolution of the conflict between the British government and the Irish people. Over the past number of years we have continually affirmed our willingness to facilitate the development of a process with the potential for securing a lasting settlement to this conflict. In announcing a cessation of military operations on 20 July last year we demonstrated again our preparedness to match words with deeds and face up to our responsibilities in this regard. Five months on the British government has yet to demonstrate a similar commitment and fully grasp the renewed opportunity to achieve a political settlement.

We remain acutely aware that Oglaigh na hEireann is the only military organisation on cessation. After a year that has seen a dozen assassinations by loyalist paramilitaries we note the growing signs that the British government are bowing to the military establishment's agenda of trying to divide and defeat republicans instead of seeking a resolution to the conflict.

Instead of an implementation of confidence-building measures they have continued with the remilitarisation policy of their predecessors in government. The pursuance of a programme of rebuilding and fortification of British military and RUC installations along with the refusal to release a single political prisoner during two successive cessations of military operations by Oglaigh na hEireann begs the question as to whether the new Labour government will rise to the political challenge the current situation presents or intend to pass it back to the military establishment marked `security problem' hoping it will not contaminate British domestic policy.

In blocking any move towards the establishment of a meaningful negotiations process the Unionist leadership signals only a desire to perpetuate conflict. The primary responsibility for dealing with this Unionist veto remains with the British government. Their failure to do so not only allows Unionist leaders to pursue a policy of non-engagement but also contributes directly to the creation of the political vacuum in which loyalist murder gangs flourish.

Events of the last days of 1997 are a reminder of both the necessity for a negotiated settlement and the price of failure to achieve this.

Conscious therefore of the need for speedy and visible signs of progress we begin the New Year with the fervent hope that a real and truly inclusive negotiations process will soon begin. We remind the British government of their central responsibility in this respect. Failure should not be an option. It is their responsibility to move the situation forward.

P O'Neill, Irish Republican Publicity Bureau, Dublin.

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