The Irish Republican Army has finally managed to say what people of good will have urged it to say for years. Let us hope that those words are now translated into action.

Last Thursday, the IRA formally ordered “an end to the armed campaign.” It instructed all IRA units to turn in their arms, and it pledged render all the IRA’s remaining weapons unusable.

The IRA’s armed campaign against British military personnel, local police and unarmed civilians has been restrained by a cease-fire since 1997. Since the latest round of Northern Ireland’s troubles began in the late 1960s, more than 3,500 people have been killed. Regrettably, the IRA still insists on calling its activities during those years legitimate. They were not.

If the IRA shows that it means exactly what it has now said, the other leading players in Northern Ireland’s affairs must step up to their own responsibilities for consolidating peace and normality. Without delay, loyalist paramilitary groups from the Protestant community must follow the IRA’s example. The Reverend Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists, now the majority party among Protestant voters, must take the IRA’s yes for an answer and agree to form a power-sharing executive cabinet with the IRA’s electoral wing, Sinn Fein, now the majority party among Roman Catholics. — The New York Times