A delegation of US Congressmen visiting the North have been urged to keep pressure on the IRA to dismantle its structures, it emerged today.
Democratic Unionist MP Gregory Campbell revealed that during talks yesterday with the delegation of Republicans and Democrats his party’s supporters were looking for reassurance that the IRA were no longer "a continuing sore in the community".
Campbell said: “The US delegation were pressed by us to assist on the economic front so that inward investment from American companies can increase.
“We also told them it was essential that further moves needed to be made by Sinn Féin on the further dismantling of the IRA structures to give confidence to our community that the IRA are not a continuing sore in our community.
“Over the coming months there will be increasing attention – particularly by people from the unionist community looking at the current state of this process - to determine what the benefits are from political developments taking shape at present.
“It is essential they see progress being made. Any assistance that can be offered from the US will be gladly received.”
The delegation of eight members of the US House of Representatives will today meet the North's Deputy First Minister-in-waiting Martin McGuinness and his Sinn Féin colleagues, Gerry Kelly, Bairbre de Brun, Alex Maskey and Jennifer McCann.
Among those taking part in the visit are Massachusetts Democrat Congressman Richie Neal and New York Republican Congressman Jim Walsh.
The Sinn Féin leadership was accused today by hardline republicans in the Continuity IRA of betraying the goal of an Irish Republic to placate the Rev Ian Paisley.
Their annual Easter statement said: “This year many of us will assemble (at 1916 Easter Rising commemorations) with a heavy heart, following the further betrayal of the all-Ireland republic by former comrades who have taken yet another step in treachery with their recognition of the PSNI/RUC, and their further acceptance and administering of British rule in the occupied six northern counties.
“True republicans will have watched with horror the antics and political posturing of the Provisional leadership over the last 12 months in their attempts to placate militant Paisleyism and their eagerness to hold a special Ard Fheis to rush through a motion to support the armed wing of the British oppressor.
“The true republican leadership will never compromise and will never accept British rule in any part of our country.”
The Continuity IRA also denied it had any involvement in criminality, claiming there had been attempts to besmirch its name by associating it with drugs and recent murders in Belfast.
“The leadership of the Continuity Irish Republican Army has already categorically denied involvement in any of this activity and reiterates it once more in this statement,” it said.
“Due to the treachery of others our struggle faces greater obstacles than before but this leadership is aware that there has always been a significant body of opinion in Ireland opposed to British rule.
“The task of the Republican movement in the immediate future is to organise, harness and lead that support in opposition to foreign rule and British imperialism.”