The Irish Republican Army on Thursday declared its traditional Christmas truce, but a leader of the group's political wing ruled out an end to its 25-year-old war in Northern Ireland under an Anglo-Irish peace initiative.
The brief cease-fire had been expected, although there had been some hope that the IRA would call a longer halt this year in response to the peace framework announced Dec. 15.
In a statement to the media, the guerrilla group said its guns and bombs will be silenced for 72 hours beginning today.
"Unfortunately, at this point in time, the political situation hasn't developed to a position where Sinn Fein can use its influence to end attacks on the British crown forces," said Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein, the legal political party that supports the outlawed IRA.
McGuinness was quoted by the Belfast Telegraph as saying the package offered by London and Dublin made too few concessions.
His remarks were the clearest indication to date that the Anglo-Irish initiative will be rejected by Sinn Fein after it holds intensive talks with its leaders and members over the next few weeks.
In a joint declaration, Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds and British Prime Minister John Major have offered the IRA's political allies a seat in negotiations on Ulster's future, but only if the IRA permanently renounces violence.