The man who three times inspected the IRA’s weapons dumps prior to decommissioning has said that it is impossible to say that the IRA destroyed all its weapons. Martti Ahtisaari, the former president of Finland who jointly inspected the arms before their destruction between 2001 and 2005, said that any society coming out of conflict would have “so many arms” in various locations that it can never be certain that all have been put beyond use.
In recent years, there have been growing questions about the totality of IRA decommissioning as dissident republicans have had access to former Provisional IRA weapons such as Semtex.
When asked, during a brief interview with the News Letter on a visit to Belfast, whether the public can be confident that all the weapons were destroyed, Mr Ahtisaari said: “First of all, in a society that has been in a war... there are so many arms in that society that you can never have a situation anywhere in the world where all the arms will disappear.
“Because it is not only those which are possibly in the arms dumps, but people have arms at home, we know that from every country, and people have arms for hunting purposes, so there are so many arms.”