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Statement by Ian Paisley, on the Publication of the Tenth Report of the IMC, (26 April 2006)

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Text: Ian Paisley... Page compiled: Brendan Lynn

Statement by Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), on the Publication of the Tenth Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), (26 April 2006)


"The publication of the tenth report from the Independent Monitoring Commission provides the people of Northern Ireland with the opportunity to read the report in full. Over the last number of days we have been subjected to selected leaking and reporting of the elements of the report that the government want to highlight. Such behaviour has been customary in an attempt by the government to distract attention from the fact that none of these terror groups have gone out of existence and in the case of the IRA they have still to complete the transition to exclusively peaceful and democratic means.

Those who would attempt to pressurise the IMC to paint a less than truthful picture in the coming months should be in no doubt that while we view the work of the commission as a useful tool it remains one of a number of elements in our overall assessment.

The IMC report published on the 1st February 2006 painted a picture of all paramilitary groups continuing with their terrorist and criminal activity. The IRA continued with its intelligence gathering operations, assaults, large scale crime and exiling. These activities according to the IMC were sanctioned by the leadership of the IRA.

The policy of the united voice of the unionist people insisting that criminality must cease is taking effect and we welcome the effect it is taking. This tenth report indicates a reduction in IRA activity and a further dismantling of the IRA as a military structure. In so far as it goes such movement is to be welcomed.

However the IRA continues to engage in terror and criminal activities. Undoubtedly the continuing practice of exiling and the fact that "members, including some senior ones" are still involved in crime, including offences such as fuel laundering, money laundering, extortion, tax evasion and smuggling is of grave concern. The continued occurrence of such illegality throughout various ranks begs the question whether the organisation as a whole is actually committed to giving up such criminality. There remains a substantial grey area around the actions of some individuals and what appears to be much more widespread organisational behaviour.

The report highlights what everyone in Northern Ireland already knows, namely that the IRA is completely hostile to the forces of law and order. Such a continuing attitude is not the hallmark of an organisation that is fit to serve in government.

All those who have the interests of democracy at heart should be disturbed at the continuing benefits Sinn Fein/IRA derives from the proceeds of "discreetly laundered assets which were previously gained illegally." Political parties in the Republic of Ireland should pay particular attention to the wealth at Sinn Fein/IRA’s disposal and the IMC’s description of it as a "strategic asset".

I have repeatedly indicated that the manner in which IRA weapons were decommissioned did nothing to build confidence within the Unionist community. The IMC conclusion that weaponry was held back from the decommissioning process has been repeated in this report and continues to demonstrate the error of those who claimed all weapons had been decommissioned.

The DUP has been consistent that only those who are committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means can be in the government of Northern Ireland. Such a consistent and unyielding approach has brought about the progress which the IMC has reported and which the Government is so keen to highlight. Clearly at a time when our approach is succeeding, and quickening the pace of the transition, every effort must be made to ensure that pressure is maintained on Sinn Fein/IRA who have not completed that transition to peaceful and democratic behaviour. It is for Sinn Fein/IRA to demonstrate by their actions that they have turned their back on terror and criminal behaviour. Equally they have yet to prove whether the nature of any transition is temporary or permanent.

So-called loyalist paramilitaries persist in poisoning the very communities that they purport to represent with their ongoing terror and criminality. The unionist community overwhelmingly rejects these individuals and their activities and they, like republicans, must face the full rigours of the law.

As far as the DUP is concerned there will be no tolerable level of paramilitary and criminal behaviour. It is for Republicans to give it all up and irreversibly get onto the democratic path. At the present rate of transition it will be some considerable time before they can be said to have embraced that path."


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