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IRA Criticizes British Demand to Disband - 2002-10-19

The Irish Republican Army says a British demand to disband is not realistic. The IRA, the leading Catholic paramilitary group in Northern Ireland, was reacting to a call by British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

A senior IRA source briefed reporters Saturday on his organization's response to Prime Minister Blair's demand that the IRA disband to save the faltering peace process in Northern Ireland.

According to reporters who attended the briefing, the IRA source denied the organization is a threat to the peace process. He was quoted as saying the IRA will not, as he put it, accept the imposition of unreasonable demands.

Mr. Blair gave a speech on Thursday saying the IRA could no longer remain, in his words, half in and half out of the peace process.

The prime minister has suspended self-rule in Northern Ireland following allegations that the IRA used its political wing, the Sinn Fein party, to spy on the British government.