IRA says armed campaign over.
The IRA has formally ordered an end to its armed campaign and says it will pursue exclusively peaceful means.
In a long-awaited statement, the republican organisation said it would follow a democratic path ending more than 30 years of violence.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the move was a "courageous and confident initiative" and that the moment must be seized.
Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was a "step of unparalleled magnitude".
"It is what we have striven for and worked for throughout the eight years since the Good Friday Agreement," he said.
The IRA made its decision after an internal debate prompted by Mr Adams' call in April to pursue its goals exclusively through politics.
Mr Adams said Thursday's statement was a "defining point in the search for a lasting peace with justice" and also presented challenges for others.
"It means that unionists who are for the Good Friday Agreement must end their ambivalence," he said.
"And it is a direct challenge to the DUP to decide if they want to put the past behind them, and make peace with the rest of the people of this island."
A genuinely huge step forward. What must not be allowed to happen now is two things. Firstly, the IRA must stop its intimidation and criminal activities immediately, as well as disarming. The murder of Robert McCartney has proven to be a turning point, and anything like it must never be allowed to happen again. The McCartney sisters deserve quite a lot of credit in getting the IRA to agree to its own armed disbanding.
Secondly, pressure must now also be firmly applied to the Unionists. Attempts at power-sharing restarting were dashed last December only because of the attempts of the "Democratic" Unionist Party to humiliate the IRA through showing their disarmament. As long as the weapons are confirmed gone by independents, we don't need to see photographs of them being destroyed. That should never have been an issue. What is also an issue is that Unionist splinter groups must now also be heavily cracked down on. The Guardian has reported that there appears to be a bloody feud between the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Loyalist Volunteer Force currently taking place (Echoes of Life of Brian, anyone?). Such armed loyalist groups should also disband forthwith. Ian Paisley must not be allowed to stall any further attempts at returning to devolution.
It's now not only up to the IRA and Sinn Fein, but also Irish and British politicans to make sure that disarmament fully takes place, and that all promises are kept to both parties. This statement must mark the beginning of the end, and not the end of the beginning.