By Humphrey Carter
SANTA Ponsa is set to be the location for an IRA summit at the end of the month with some of the organisation's top people using the sunshine break to mark the tenth anniversary of the current ceasefire on August 31, a Belfast newspaper reported.

This is not the first time IRA members have apparently combined business and pleasure in the resort, although in the past the trips have always been kept extremely low key.

However, according to Stephen Breen of the Belfast Telegraph's Sunday Life it would appear a group of leading members from the IRA's “northern command,” with their families, is coming out towards the end of the month. It will be not only to mark the ceasefire's anniversary, but also discuss the immediate future of the “troubled ceasefire.” It is understood that the Spanish summit will be used to discuss a “whole range” of issues by top republicans. Breen said yesterday that security sources have revealed that a number of meetings and summits are being held this month, at home and overseas. This is in the run up to a fresh round of peace talks between the British and Irish governments, the loyalist DUP and the republican Sinn Fein starting next month.

While Santa Ponsa allegedly appears to be traditionally popular with the IRA, Breen says that their UDA loyalist rivals normally hold their summer summits in Dubai.

The IRA's Santa Ponsa holidays were first revealed by News of the World in 1999 and have since been accepted as annual events.
According to security sources, it is highly unlikely any leaders of the Army Council will be attending the Santa Ponsa meeting. “It's much harder for them to move around,” it is believed that “political leaders” will be coming to the island. “The summit in Spain is one way for the republicans to meet without worrying about the security forces disrupting anything,” sources told Breen.
Apparently the summit has been called because the grassroots members of the republican movement are becoming increasingly unhappy about the way in which the peace process is moving. The Spanish authorities have been informed and are expected to keep an eye on those attending.

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