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ÓNH ceasefire a welcome step forward

Given that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland want to live in a peaceful, stable society, the fact that an armed organisation involved in bombings and shootings has called a ceasefire must be regarded as a welcome development.

Óglaigh na hÉireann (ÓNH) is one of a number of dissident republican groups which refused to accept the peace process, Sinn Féin's political strategy and the end of the IRA's campaign of violence.

Disaffected former Provisionals were among those who were determined to continue attacking police and prison officers as well as members of their own community despite a lack of widespread support and the absence of a coherent plan.

Although the numbers involved in the dissident groupings are small, they have managed to cause death and serious injury as well as putting countless lives at risk.

However, their activities have been on the wane following a series of successful operations on both sides of the border.

High profile arrests including that of veteran republican Seamus McGrane, jailed by a Dublin court for directing terrorism and plotting an attack to coincide with a visit by Prince Charles, would undoubtedly have had an impact.

ÓNH is also be focused on the issue of prisoners and may expect action to be taken over conditions in Maghaberry jail.

Ultimately, however, the decision to call a ceasefire shows a recognition that the type of violent campaign being pursued by the dissident groups is futile.

As the ÓNH statement put it, 'the environment is not conducive to armed conflict.'

All those who have suffered and are still suffering would argue that the environment has never been conducive to armed conflict and that political objectives can be achieved through entirely peaceful means.

Those who played a part in bringing ÓNH to this significant step must be commended while attention will now turn to the remaining paramilitary groups who continue to pose a threat.

Hopefully, they will also come to the realisation that the world has changed and their violent activities are going nowhere.

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