The inspection of IRA arms dumps by independent observers represents a turning point for the peace process in Northern Ireland.

For the first time in history, the IRA allowed independent observers access to its arms dumps.

An IRA statement said that it had reestablished contact with the IICD (Independent International Commission on Decommissioning) and that a number of arms dumps had been examined by the independent third parties.

These dumps contained a substantial amount of material including weapons, explosives and other equipment.

The two independent inspectors Cyril Ramaphosa from the African National Congress and former president of Finland Martti Ahtisaari met British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street. They confirmed that they had consulted with specialists in arms control in order to develop credible methods of inspection and verification. Their statement said that they observed that the weapons and arms were safely stored. No details were provided as to exactly when the inspections took place.

Cyril Ramaphosa and Martti Ahtisaari will now have regular access to the arms dumps to make sure that the weapons have not been used.

An RTÉ News reports on 26 June 2000. The reporter is Charlie Bird.