The INLA announces a ceasefire (1998)

On August 22nd 1998, a week after the Omagh bombing, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) announced an immediate ceasefire, admitting to “faults and grievous errors”:

“We have accepted the advice and analysis of the Irish Republican Socialist Party that the conditions for armed struggle do not exist. The Irish National Liberation Army has now shifted from the position of defence and retaliation to the position of complete ceasefire. We have instructed all our units to desist from offensive actions from noon today. The Irish National Liberation Army is now on ceasefire.

We take this historic opportunity to pay tribute to our fallen comrades who gave their lives in the struggle. To their families we share their pride and sorrow. We wish to praise first the courage, loyalty and commitment of our volunteers. For nearly 25 years they have been in the forefront of the anti-imperialist struggle and have upheld the principles of republican socialism.

In armed combat, in prison protest on the blanket in hunger strikes, in prison escapes, on picket lines and in mass demonstrations, they have at all times upheld the right of the whole of the Irish people for self determination. To the wider public who through support and solidarity in such committees as the Relatives Action Committees, the National H Block and Armagh Committees, Relatives for Justice and other solidarity committees around the world, we thank them for the support they gave to our prisoners.

To those prisoners in gaol, in Portlaoise and Long Kesh we offer our heartfelt thanks for their loyalty and steadfastness throughout the years. Though scorned, slandered and derided, marginalised and demonised, they stuck by the principles of republican socialism. We salute their courage.

We also acknowledge and praise the role played by the families and friends and supporters of our members. Through no fault of their own they have had to suffer much over the years. We applaud them and fervently wish they never have to endure such suffering again.

In calling this cessation we recognise that the political situation has changed since the formation of the INLA. We recognise that armed struggle can never be the only option for revolutionaries. In the new conditions prevailing it is only right to respond to the new conditions. Those conditions demand a ceasefire.

Although we, for our part believe that the Good Friday Agreement was not worth the sacrifices of the past 30 years and are still politically opposed to it, the people of the island of Ireland have spoken clearly as to their wishes.

The working classes have borne the brunt of the consequences of the war for the past three decades. They have also suffered repression, social deprivation, unemployment and poverty. We recognise their desire for a cessation of violence expressed through the referendum and for a peaceful future.

The onus is now on all political parties, governments and observers to ensure that the democratic wishes of the Irish people are upheld. This includes all armed groups. Therefore we have taken this ceasefire decision to take account of the people’s desires.

Now we turn to the consequences of our part in the war. We acknowledge and admit faults and grievous errors in our prosecution of the war. Innocent people were killed and injured and at times our actions as a liberation army fell far short of what they should have been.

For this we as Republicans, as socialists and as revolutionaries do offer a sincere, heartfelt and genuine apology. It was never our intention, desire or wish to become embroiled in sectarian or internecine warfare. We accept responsibility for our part in actions which hindered the struggle. Those actions should never have happened.

We have, however, nothing to apologise for in taking the war to the British and their Loyalist henchmen. Those who preyed on the blood of Nationalists paid a heavy price. However, the will of the Irish people is clear. It is now time to silence the guns and allow the working classes the time and opportunity to advance their demands and their needs.”