International weapons inspectors have supervised the full disarmament of the outlawed Irish Republican Army, a long-sought goal of Northern Ireland's peace process, an aide to the process' monitor said Sunday.
The IRA permitted two independent witnesses, including a Methodist minister and a Roman Catholic priest close to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, to view the secret disarmament work conducted by officials from Canada, Finland and the United States, the aide to retired Canadian Gen. John de Chastelain said on condition of anonymity, reports the AP.
"The IRA's decision on July 28th to formally end its armed campaign has changed the political landscape in Ireland forever. I am confident that tomorrow will bring the final chapter on the issue of IRA arms," said Martin McGuinness, chief negotiator of Sinn Fein.
"I believe that Ireland stands on the cusp of a truly historic advance and I hope that people across the island will respond positively in the time ahead."
Ceasefires in the 1990s and a 1998 peace accord largely ended sectarian violence but pro-British and pro-Irish paramilitaries have both been reluctant to give up the arms they said were needed as much to protect their communities as to fight, informs Reuters.