The head of the Irish Republican Army's political wing has urged the movement to end its armed struggle amid heavy pressure on the group to renounce violence.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said Wednesday in Belfast that the nationalist movement should try to unify British-ruled Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland by political means.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern called Mr. Adams' statement "significant" and filled with "potential." British officials said what matters in the end is what the IRA does.

The latest developments came amid accusations of IRA involvement in two high-profile crimes.

The IRA has denied accusations by British and Irish officials that it was involved in a $50 million bank robbery in December and in a brutal killing one month later, both in Belfast.

The allegations have delayed efforts to rebuild the stalled Northern Ireland peace process.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.