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Statement by the British Government on the publication of the Twelfth Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), (4 October 2006)

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Text: British Government... Page compiled: Brendan Lynn

Statement by the British Government on the publication of the Twelfth Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), (4 October 2006)


"The government thanks the members of the Independent Monitoring Commission for their 12th report, and acknowledges the painstaking, methodical and objective way in which they have conducted their assessments of paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland during the past three years.

It is in that same spirit that we believe this report should be read. The best commentary on it are the words of the IMC itself and we believe that they should be studied with care.

As they themselves note the situation now has been transformed from what it was three years ago - particularly in regard to the IRA.

As the report concludes the IRA is not the same organization it was three years ago."Three years ago it was the most sophisticated and potentially the most dangerous of the (paramilitary) groups, possessed of the largest arsenal of guns and other material. It is now firmly set on a political strategy, eschewing terrorism and other forms of crime. In this process there has been a loss of paramilitary capability. The leadership has taken a firm stance against the involvement of members in criminality, both through public statements and internal directions."(paragraph 5:18)

In particular we welcome both its conclusion that the leadership of the IRA "does not consider a return to terrorism in any way a viable option" (2:19) and that it"continues to direct its members not to engage in criminal activity" (2:19) and its statement that in the period since Gerry Adams' April 2005 statement "the Sinn Fein leadership has delivered on the intent set out in it." (4:5)

The significance of these statements cannot, and should not, be under-estimated.

That is particularly so given the report’s detailed conclusions that the IRA is not involved in:

  • terrorism;
  • training;
  • recruiting;
  • targeting;
  • procurement;
  • or engineering activity. (2:18)

And that the leadership has not just maintained a "firm stance against the involvement of members in criminality" (2:17), but also taken action against members who have continued such activity.

We also note that the report says that where individuals have been involved, as individuals, in criminality that has not been sanctioned, and it should not call into question the leadership's position. (2:18)

We also note, and welcome, the report’s assessment that the IRA has:

  • Taken further steps to run down its terrorist capability;
  • Has disbanded its structures which were responsible for procurement, engineering and training;
  • Has stood down volunteers;
  • Has instructed members not to use physical force, and refused to respond to community pressure to do so. (2:17)

And we also acknowledge the report's finding that the work of IRA members, along with that of loyalist paramilitaries, contributed significantly to the most peaceful marching season since the 1960s. (2:17)

The government also acknowledges the report’s conclusion that some members of the UDA and UVF continue to try to move their organizations away from violence and criminality – though, like the IMC, we believe there is much more to do if the loyalist organizations are to match the profound change brought about by the IRA. (2:29)

Given that change, we agree with the report's conclusion that there is now "convincing evidence of the IRA's continuing commitment to the political path" (2:19) and believe that it is no longer credible to suggest otherwise.

Like the IMC, the government, however, believes that further progress needs to be made on the issue of policing, though welcoming the report's conclusion that the leadership has accepted the need for engagement. (2:21)

The government believes that the necessary progress can be made at the upcoming talks in Scotland. But, while we accept that individual parties will, quite rightly, make their own assessment, we believe this report does lay the basis for the final settlement of the conflict in Northern Ireland - and, as such, presents a unique opportunity for this generation to reach that final resolution, an opportunity the government hopes the parties will now seize."


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