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Bloody Sunday, election, Irish, Ireland, British, Ulster, Unionist, Sinn Féin, SDLP, Ahern, Blair, Irish America

IRA discusses disbanding Army Council

(by Suzanne Breen, Sunday Tribune)

The Provisional IRA is considering disbanding its Army Council in an effort to secure Sinn Féin's peace deal with the DUP.

Republican sources said the possibility was being discussed at senior levels. They said Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, was keen such a possible move be made before the new power-sharing Executive is formed next month.

However, it is unknown whether there is full support among Army Council members. Dissolving the Army Council and greater clarity on Sinn Féin's support for the police are on the DUP's wish-list.

Republican sources said Michelle Gildernew MP had been "hauled into line" over comments she wouldn't pass information on republican dissidents to police.

Meanwhile, the DUP has successfully managed dissent in its own ranks over entering government with Sinn Féin. Jim Allister MEP resigned over the issue last week but no resignations of MPs or Assembly members are expected.

Sources said at most two or three councillors might step down. Assembly member Jim Wells, a leading sceptic, said: "I've had sleepless nights over last Monday's events which I found desperately distressing. I've consulted widely in my constituency and there is concern about the speed of things. However, the unanimous view is that I stay in the party and articulate those views."

The new Executive ministers won't be nominated until next month but their names will be announced this week. Sources said Sinn Féin's three ministers were likely to be Conor Murphy (Newry and Armagh), Catriona Ruane (South Down), John O'Dowd (Upper Bann).

The party is mounting a strong electoral challenge to the SDLP in the latter two constituencies and indeed hopes to take the SDLP's South Down Westminster seat. Sinn Féin's junior ministry, in Martin McGuinness's deputy first minister's office, could go to Brighton bomber, Martina Anderson.

The SDLP's ministry will go to Margaret Ritchie (South Down) who will be running against Catriona Ruane for Westminster.

The DUP's Peter Robinson will become Finance Minister. Arlene Foster (Fermanagh and South Tyrone), Nigel Dodds MP and Gregory Campbell MP are also in the running for seats. Edwin Poots (Lagan Valley) could be a surprise choice, possibly for Agriculture. Ian Paisley jnr should be either a full minister, or a junior minister in his father's office.

April 2, 2007

This article appeared in the April 1, 2007 edition of the Sunday Tribune.