The Irish Republican Army said today it was ending its armed campaign and ordered its members to dump their arms and pursue their political goals by "exclusively peaceful means".

Unionist leaders were predictably sceptical, but Tony Blair hailed the long-awaited IRA statement as "a step of unparalleled magnitude in the recent history of Northern Ireland" and looked forward to the day when power-sharing government returns to the province.

"This may be the day when finally, after all the false dawns and dashed hopes, peace replaced war, politics replaces terror on the island of Ireland," the Prime Minister said.

Britain, UK news from The Times and The Sunday Times - Times Online


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