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Statement by Peter Hain on the publication of the Thirteenth Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), (30 January 2007)

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Text: Peter Hain... Page compiled: Brendan Lynn

Statement by Peter Hain, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on the publication of the Thirteenth Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), (30 January 2007)


IMC report charts progress to peace

"Northern Ireland has come a very long way over the past 18 months when the IRA leadership said that the war was over. That commitment to peace was reinforced when it decommissioned its arsenal of weapons.

Since then the IMC has published a series of reports and has given its assessment which chart the process of peace being followed by the Republican leadership and records the seismic shift which has occurred.

Only a few days after the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis gave its support to policing and the criminal justice system - a decision which the IMC has itself described as a 'very major development' - it is important for everyone to remember just how far we have come in such a short space of time.

In October 2005, the IMC described the IRA statement of July 28 as 'potentially very significant' and added that it 'should mean that members of the organisation have been instructed to give up all forms of criminal activity'.

That view was reinforced by the IMC the following February when the commissioners stated that 'we have no doubt that PIRA, uniquely among paramilitary organisations, has taken the strategic decision to eschew terrorism and pursue a political path'.

In April 2006, the IMC was of the view that PIRA leadership remains committed to following a peaceful path and 'is working to bring the whole organisation fully along with it and has expended considerable efforts to refocus the movement in support of its objective'.

Finally, in its October report of last year, the IMC stated that ‘Three years ago PIRA was the most sophisticated and potentially the most dangerous of all 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’.

That report also stated that 'PIRA has taken steps to run down its terrorist capability. It has disbanded military structures, including general Headquarters departments responsible for procurement, engineering and training'.

Today's report is further proof - if proof is needed - that Northern Ireland is a much different place to what it was only 18 months ago.

This report removes the final, major impediment to the restoration of stable and lasting devolution in Northern Ireland.

It is now up to the politicians to show courage and grasp the historic opportunities before them in the coming weeks. It will be a tragedy if this opportunity is lost."


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