A number of recent signs have pointed to major developments occurring within the I.R.A.
Prime Minister Bertie Ahern of Ireland was cutting short a vacation to return to Dublin later this week. John DeChastelain, a Canadian general who is the chairman of a commission set up to oversee the destruction of paramilitary weapons, is in Ireland this week, the Irish government spokesman said. And Martin McGuinness, one of the leaders of the I.R.A.'s political wing, Sinn Fein, is to go to Washington tomorrow to brief American officials on the peace process, according to Rita O'Hare, Sinn Fein's representative in the United States.
Yesterday, Ireland's justice minister, Michael McDowell, said the top leaders of Sinn Fein, including Gerry Adams and Mr. McGuinness, had stepped down from positions on the I.R.A.'s secretive governing council.
However, the I.R.A.'s failure to disarm since 1994 has created much official skepticism about its motives and statements.
"There is no position whatsoever between being armed and being unarmed for the I.R.A.," said Mr. McDowell, the justice minister. "If the I.R.A. are decommissioning, they must decommission all their weapons in their entirety, every single pistol, every single bullet, the lot."
I'll believe it when I see it.