The Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland, meeting last night in Maynooth, on the eve of the September General Meeting of the Irish Bishops' Conference, issued the following statement in response to the announcement of complete decommissioning on the part of the IRA by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) and the two independent witnesses, Rev Harold Good and Fr Alec Reid. "We welcome the confirmation by the IICD and the two independent Church witnesses that the IRA has honoured the commitments set out in its statement of 28th July 2005. This represents an immensely significant confidence-building measure in favour of a more peaceful and stable society in Northern Ireland. Today's announcement is a vindication of the efforts undertaken by all those who have, over the years, courageously worked to replace violence with dialogue. "We hope that all who exercise leadership will continue to affirm the political process as the means to resolve any remaining issues in the search for peace. We call on all other paramilitary groups to affirm their commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means. "We wish to congratulate General John de Chastelain and his colleagues for their professionalism, thoroughness and patience. We wish also to commend the judgement and integrity of Rev. Harold Good and Fr Alex Reid, two men who have, for many years, consistently and generously committed themselves to the resolution of conflict in our society. "While we acknowledge today's long awaited achievement, we are mindful of all those who have suffered as a result of violence, and we keep them in our prayers." *Rev Hood, a former president of the Methodist Church was appointed in the late 1960s to serve the Shankill Road in Belfast. During that time he was also part-time chaplain at the city's Crumlin Road Prison. He later became director of the Corrymeela Community Centre for Reconciliation, a community where Catholics and Protestants work together and has been involved in working for peace for many years. Fr Reid, is a member of the Redemptorist Clonard Monastery on Belfast's Falls Road. He helped to arrange ground-breaking talks between Mr Adams and then SDLP leader John Hume which led in time, to the 1993 Downing Street Declaration and eventually the1998 Good Friday Agreement. He was also the man the IRA turned to when under pressure to reveal where the bodies of those secretly murdered and buried by the IRA were hidden. The IRA gave the locations of the "Disappeared" to the priest and he passed them on, acting as a conduit between the organisation and the authorities. Source: Irish Catholic Media Office/BBC
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