The leadership of the Irish Republican Army Sunday announced a three-day Christmas cease-fire, the first suspension of IRA military activity in 16 years, until midnight Wednesday.
"We have instructed all active service units to suspend all offensive military action in the British-occupied area for a period of three days from midnight," said the statement, signed P. O'Neill, the pseudonym for the IRA army council. The last suspension of the IRA's 20-year-old battle to drive the British out of Northern Ireland was in December 1974 and lasted eight months.
Gerry Adams, president of the the IRA's legal political wing Sinn Fein, said of the cease-fire, "I welcome the news and hope that the British forces will respond in kind so that Irish people can have a peaceful Christmas."
Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey said he "earnestly hoped" the move could be extended indefinitely -- a development he said would "open up great possibilities for progress."