The body in the North that monitors activity by all paramilitary groups has described yesterday's statement by the IRA as potentially very significant.

In a comment this afternoon, the Independent Monitoring Commission said it notes the instructions to all Provisional IRA members and the role played by the leadership of Sinn Féin in the achievement of the statement.

It also said it would work with a careful checklist when compiling its report for the Irish and British governments due later this year.

Demolition of observation posts begins

Demolition work on three British Army observation posts in south Armagh has begun, less than 24 hours after the IRA said it was laying down its arms.

An army base at Forkhill, an observation tower at Sugarloaf Mountain near Camlough and a look-out post at Newtownhamilton Police Station are all being closed.

The move has sparked a political row, with unionists claiming the British government should wait to see the full intent of the IRA before removing military installations.

The DUP's Arlene Foster described it as criminally irresponsible, and said the British government seemed quite happy to act on the IRA's words alone.

The Ulster Unionist MLA, Danny Kennedy, said the move was absolutely outrageous, and said the British government decision to act on IRA words alone was foolish and premature.

The British government is to publish an updated programme of security normalisation soon.

Legislation due to be introduced in the autumn will allow paramilitary fugitives to return home to Northern Ireland.

DUP will deal with Sinn Féin, says Adams

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams says it is only a matter of time before the DUP enters into politics with his party.

Earlier, the SDLP leader, Mark Durkan, said the DUP must not be allowed to delay talks on the restoration of the North's political institutions.

Speaking after a meeting with the Taoiseach at Government Buildings, Mr Durkan said the two governments had allowed other parties to delay, but the time for this was passed.

The SDLP leader also said that Sinn Féin must get involved in the new policing arrangements as there could not be a ‘twilight zone’ between criminality and law.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland, the US senator who helped negotiate the Good Friday Agreement, George Mitchell, said there was a lot more to be done before the peace process is complete.

Senator Mitchell also said that he thinks Sinn Féin will join the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

For the full text of the IRA statement click here.