Britain began demolishing one of its Northern Ireland army watchtowers - symbols of its military presence - on Friday after a pledge by republican guerrillas to end their armed campaign revived peace efforts in the province.
The move came as part of commitments by Britain and Ireland to fulfill promises delayed by the Irish Republican Army's past failure to disarm and as work resumed on securing a political deal that would restore suspended regional government.
Pulling down the eight-hilltop watchtowers along the Irish border is one of the actions long demanded by Irish nationalists to normalize life in a province slowly emerging from a 30-year conflict in which 3,600 people were killed.
"In light of yesterday's developments, the Chief Constable and I have decided that a further reduction in security profile is possible," General Commanding Officer Reddy Watt said, reports Reuters.
According to CBS, Thursday’s declaration by Gerry Adams, followed a two-year diplomatic showdown between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its allied Sinn Fein party, on the one hand, and an increasingly unified, impatient world community on the other.
The IRA has faced mounting international pressure to disarm and disband since December, when police blamed it for a world-record $50 million bank robbery.
Adding to the momentum for peace was the knifing death in January of Catholic civilian Robert McCartney, who was killed by IRA members outside a Belfast bar. The murder was a public relations disaster for the IRA as Adams found himself unwelcome at many St. Patrick's Day events in the U.S., including at the White House and in Boston, and McCartney's five sisters and fiancée were invited instead as guests of honor.
The massive explosion at the port of Beirut occurred due to the detonation of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which was seized in 2014 from the ship Rhosus