- The Washington Times - Friday, October 26, 2001

The Northern Ireland government was saved from having to shut down last night in the wake of the IRA's destruction of some of their arsenal. The historic move for Northern Ireland's largest existing paramilitary organization was a tribute to Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble's willingness to put his party and his power on the line for the sake of peace.

The IRA's move came just days after former First Minister Trimble pulled his three ministers from Northern Ireland's power-sharing government due to the IRA's unwillingness to disarm. The resignations of the ministers would have caused Ulster's home rule to be ceded to Britain at midnight last night, but the ministers rescinded their resignations. Mr. Trimble also intends to gain approval from his party tomorrow to return as first minister of the government, a position that he gave up in July in protest of the IRA's consistent refusal to decommission. The party should grant his request.

The move by the IRA to destroy its weapons dispels the myth Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has long been trying to spread that is, that he and his party had no influence over their paramilitary counterparts. Mr. Adams called for the IRA to begin putting their arms beyond use on Monday. By Tuesday, it began making the move that the world had been waiting for since the 1998 Good Friday accord, which stipulated that all paramilitaries disarm.

Britain has also responded in kind to the trust the IRA showed on Tuesday. Security normalization has long been a demand of Sinn Fein and the Catholic community, which has had to live with a predominantly Protestant police force as well as a British military presence. These communities felt that the security measures encroached on their personal privacy and independence. The British government began demolishing three military observation towers and one base on Wednesday and signaled its intent to decrease the number of troops it has in Northern Ireland.

Only the Protestant paramilitaries who were chastised this month for their violent demonstrations and bombings have yet to complete the cycle of trust in this historic week. As Mr. Trimble seeks approval from his party tomorrow to return as Northern Ireland's official leader, he will already have his work cut out for him. But his willingness to put action behind his belief that Northern Ireland will be at peace only once it is free of paramilitary involvement was a risk worth taking. He can, and should, look back on that decision with pride.

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