A veteran former SDLP deputy leader has launched a scathing attack on the IRA, insisting that the terror group had been defeated.
During a gala dinner in his honour in Dublin, Seamus Mallon (79) said the IRA had suffered "abject and total defeat".
The former Newry and Armagh MP and ex-Deputy First Minister said: "Yes, maybe the IRA in its various forms was not defeated by any external agency such as the British Army or An Garda Siochana. But it was defeated by its own internal contradictions and demons. In fact, defeat came with the first bullet fired without democratic mandate. It came with the first bomb primed without moral justification.
"All the injured, the traumatised, the bereaved; all the innocent dead - Jean McConville, Paul Quinn, young Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball, Garda Jerry McCabe, Omagh.
"Young men in their graves or jail for 20 years. Communities poisoned and made prisoners by the threat of violence. Bank robbery and money laundered.
"This, all of this, is nothing but abject and total defeat."
During the Troubles, the Markethill home of Mr Mallon - an outspoken critic of both paramilitaries and state injustices - was attacked on several occasions, and he received death threats.
He was honoured by the SDLP last Friday in an event attended by his family and politicians including the Republic's Tanaiste Joan Burton.
Addressing the event, he said republicans with links to the IRA could not persuade unionists to embrace a united Ireland.
"For those who wish to see the end of British rule, consent means they can use only the power of persuasion to achieve that. Persuasions by whom? By the organisation which bombed their homes and killed their relatives, who fought the British by killing Irish people who lived here for almost 400 years? That's not going to be an option for persuasion. Republican violence has bombed itself out of the process for persuasion for Irish unity."