Senior Sinn Fein spokespersons have dismissed calls for an apology from the IRA for its many victims during the Troubles because the Provos are now disbanded.

The IRA publicly apologized seven years ago for killing civilians in the North, but it has never offered contrition for members of the RUC, British army, or other British security forces or government representatives killed in the course of the Troubles.

However the Irish Independent reported yesterday that Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has linked a newspaper report on a possible apology to talks between his party and members of the unionist community on reconciliation. McGuinness also reminded reporters that the IRA was disbanded.

'The IRA has left the stage, so they don't make statements and won't be making one,' a Sinn Fein source told the Independent.

Meanwhile it has emerged that a new inter governmental cross-border body will be set up soon. The Inter-Parliamentary Forum is expected to be announced shortly involving equal numbers of ministers from north and south and meeting at both Stormont in Belfast and Leinster House in Dublin, a development that even a decade ago would have been considered unthinkable.