All of which is bad news for Northern Ireland. The IRA won’t stop Sinn Fein from voting yes on the deal, but part of the fine print calls for paramilitaries to hand in their guns and semtex over the next two years. If they’re not going to do that, Protestant leaders smell a rat. “You cannot say there’s a peace agreement if some party has a private army armed to the teeth and ready for action,” fumed Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble. Like it or not, a sustained cease-fire is the best the Irish can hope for.
Taking the gun out of Irish politics is harder than it seems. Speaking out for the first time since the Good Friday peace deal, the IRA has rejected demands to scrap its massive stockpile of weaponry. And although the seven-member Army Council wrote in their weekly newspaper Republican News that the accord was a “significant development,” they added that it “clearly falls short of presenting a solid basis for a lasting settlement.”