The IRA has put its weapons "beyond use". Whether this is the totality of its arsenal or not cannot be verified- no one knows exactly what they have/had. According to this report this is what the IRA is thought to have held in its armoury-
2 tonnes of Semtex
20-30 heavy machine guns
7 Surface-to-air missiles (unused)
7 flame throwers
11 rocket-propelled grenade launchers
90 hand guns
The rifles seem to have mainly been AKs, a few Armalites (known locally as "widow makers") and a couple of Barrett .50 BMG rifles. Among the handguns were apparently 60 Webleys. That makes for 30 more modern semi-automatics/revolvers. A pretty tiny number if you ask me. That's 30 guns spread throughout the Province in use for intimidation, punishment shootings or robberies, including whatever amount is held as a cache. I don't think so. Not when individual members are known to have carried guns. And not a single shotgun mentioned either.
The worry of the IRA re-arming is ridiculed- "it would take years!" No mention is made of the ease with with which gansters in places like Dublin or Manchester get their hands on guns.
The list is filled with heavy weapons- weapons which the IRA has little need for in a terrorist campaign. Flame throwers? Also, no mention of the ease with which bombmakers can create their own explosives- and the IRA has plenty of skill in that area. When I was at Queen's University, Belfast the word was that they recruited from the Physics and Chemistry students there. As General de Chastelain (overseeing the decommissioning) says-
"it would take "a hell of a long time" to do so [re-arm] on the scale he had observed and he saw no reason for the organisation to do that. If any group wanted to carry out a terrorist attack, it would do what he saw happening in Iraq and "go to the agricultural store to buy fertiliser and to the corner shop to buy sugar". However, he had no way of knowing "for certain" that the IRA had not retained some arms. But he believed it had been "sincere" about the process"
Comforting, isn't it? But at least the gang of murderers were "sincere" about giving up their outdated and un-needed weapons.
Here we have a case of the IRA feeling isolated after the 7/7 bomb attacks in London- an organistation that was actively recruiting and training new members at the start of this year- and by the political victory of the Ulster Unionist Party led by Ian Paisley who has refused to bargain with an armed terrorist group. To end the impasse weapons, including Webleys and Brens dating from WW2, are offered up for destruction.
I wonder how long it will be before the next armed robbery or kneecapping occurs and the blame is placed, once more, on "dissidents"?