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'Normalisation' plans for Northern Ireland unveiled

1 August 2005

Stormont Plans to reduce troops and abolish watchtowers in Northern Ireland to 'normalise' the province, have been outlined by the Government.

In the wake of the IRA's statement last week to end its armed campaign, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said it was vital for local police to be able to do their job without needing back-up from the Armed Forces.

Levels of security forces should eventually come in line with the rest of the UK, he said.

Announcing the plan, Mr Hain said:

"The programme published today will see the creation of an environment which will allow the return of conventional policing across Northern Ireland"

The Secretary of State said that the process of 'normalisation'' would take time. The long-term goal of devolved government could only happen if the province accepts its new peaceful status, he added.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern both welcomed the IRA's announcement last week to end its armed campaign.

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