Report details N. Ireland disarmament efforts

Associated Press / March 4, 2010

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DUBLIN - The governments of Ireland and Britain praised their disarmament commission yesterday and published its final achievements in removing weapons from Northern Ireland’s underground armies.

Both governments in 1997 asked Canadian General John de Chastelain to persuade a half-dozen militant factions to surrender their hidden arsenals. That mission finally ended last month with a flurry of weapons moves.

Yesterday’s publication noted that de Chastelain and his American and Finnish deputies oversaw at least seven secret acts of disarmament from October to February, when the Anglo-Irish legislation empowering them to collect the outlaws’ weaponry expired.

“No one has done more than the [disarmament] commissioners and their staff to remove the gun from politics in Ireland. We owe them a great debt of gratitude,’’ said Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern.

Britain’s secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Shaun Woodward, said the disarmament officials’ recent weapons disposals were “extremely productive’’ and reflected “the culmination of years of painstaking work.’’