Opposition leader Enda Kenny has now accepted that both the IRA and the IRA Army Council are no more, a move that may allow him to enter into a coalition arrangement in the future with his own party, Fine Gael, and Sinn Fein.

Kenny had stated repeatedly that he would never sit with Sinn Fein in government because the IRA Army Council still existed

While debating in parliament yesterday about the Saville inquiry, Kenny said, “on the issue of the army council of the IRA. In my presence, following questions, both the president of Sinn Féin Gerry Adams and the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness confirmed that from every perspective they could see, the IRA and its army council are no more. I accept the Deputy First Minister’s statement in that regard”.

Four relatives of victims of the Bloody Sunday massacre attended the debate as guests of Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen. The four guests left the public gallery when Sinn Feins Caoimhghin O’Caolain made a speech.

“It is a disgrace that the Irish Government has cut funding for the only victims’ group in this State, Justice for the Forgotten,” he said.

“It is equally disgraceful the Taoiseach has failed to raise with the British prime minister this Dáil’s unanimous call for the British government to furnish to an international judicial figure all files in its possession relating to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and the other fatal acts of collusion in this jurisdiction. It is almost two years since the Dáil passed that resolution on July 10th, 2008. I call again on the Taoiseach to act.”

He added “[ Cowen] could not wait for the ink to dry on the Saville report before inviting the English queen to visit but he made no effort to progress that unanimous Dáil resolution by pressing the issue with the British government. We know from the history of the Bloody Sunday relatives’ campaign how the British system works so assiduously to conceal the information in its possession.

“Persistence has paid off before and it is required again to vindicate the families who have been campaigning so long and hard under the banner of Justice for the Forgotten.”

In an emotional opening speech, Cowen said that for the families of the Bloody Sunday victims, “the scars and the pain of their unspeakable loss were made worse by the inquiry chaired by Lord Widgery which blackened the names of innocent men.

The campaign to repudiate the Widgery report’s status as the official version of events lasted 38 years. It ended on June 15th. The families can now say that the world knows their loved ones are innocent, that their killings were unjustified and unjustifiable.”

Cowen then read into the Parliamentary record the names of the 14 Bloody Sunday victims.
“Their innocence is forever inscribed on the pages of the history of Ireland. It is fitting that their innocence is today formally placed, once again and for all time on the record of Dáil Éireann.”