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October 14, 2005

IMC Report Handed To Governments

Watchdog Report Handed To Governments

10/14/05 14:14 EST

Ceasefire watchdogs today handed over a new report on
paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland to the British and
Irish governments.

The latest dossier prepared by the 'Independent' Monitoring
Commission is the first since the IRA declared an end to its
armed struggle in July.

The body`s seventh report also comes after the IRA
decommissioned all remaining weapons under the scrutiny of
General John de Chastelain`s international disarmament body
and two church witnesses.

London and Dublin will now study the IMC`s latest assessment
before publishing the findings within weeks.

The four-man Commission`s new report has examined loyalist
and republican paramilitary behaviour over six months from
March to August.

Even though the decommissioning announcement came nearly a
month later, unionists still resisting pressure to form a
new power-sharing government with republicans in Belfast
will want to scrutinise the IMC`s assessment.

Peter Robinson, deputy leader of the Democratic Unionists,
Northern Ireland`s largest party, claimed that neither this
report nor the next, could mask IRA crime.

The East Belfast MP said: "Continued focus on the January
IMC report does not take account of the fact that so long as
the IRA retains the £26.5 million they stole from the
Northern Bank last December and the proceeds of numerous
other armed robberies they were responsible for, then they
are engaged in continuing criminal activity."

"Regardless of the outcome of any IMC report so long as such
funds are in IRA possession then the only conclusion to be
drawn is that republicans have not ceased criminal activity.
Just as our attitude to decommissioning was clear cut, there
can be no question of accepting anything less than the
complete, total and unequivocal ending of all paramilitary
and criminal activity.  The requirement for all those who
aspire to government must be a commitment to exclusively
peaceful and democratic means," Robinson said.

However, the Democratic Unionists were accused today of
finding excuses for failing to engage with Sinn Fein on a
new devolved government.

Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said recent
moves by the IRA to end its armed campaign and complete its
disarmament programme had dealt with genuine unionist
concerns about republican intentions definitively.

"It is my belief that we now have a major opportunity to
move forward and make progress in the time ahead," he said.

"The DUP, as the political leaders of unionism, need to stop
finding excuses for not engaging and instead join with the
rest of us in re-establishing the political institutions and
delivering for the people who elect us.  Ordinary people are
frustrated at the intention of the direct rule ministers to
proceed with unpopular and unwarranted policies such as
water charges or education cuts and demanding that we get
down to the job of replacing these unaccountable British
ministers with proper locally-accountable decision-making."

The British and Irish governments are hoping to hold talks
next spring to revive devolution on the back of what are
expected to be two positive reports from the Independent
Monitoring Commission (IMC) about IRA activity today and in

Republicans fear the DUP, which has submitted a 64-page
dossier of demands to the British Government, is playing a
long game before it will even consider returning to a
power-sharing administration at Stormont.

Mr McGuinness said the restoration of devolved government
could only happen within the framework set by the Good
Friday Agreement which the DUP signed up for in talks late
last year.

"The speedy re-establishment of the political institutions
in the wake of the recent IRA initiatives has to be the
political priority in the time ahead."

Nationalist SDLP negotiator Sean Farren warned the British
government not to play the concessions game with the DUP.

The North Antrim Assembly member said: "It is clear from
Gregory Campbell`s remarks that the more the DUP squeezes
out of the British Government, the more they will come back
for and the more they will try to take us all away from the
Good Friday Agreement."

"The SDLP will be warning Tony Blair not to play the
concessions game when we meet him at Downing Street next
week.  The DUP`s attempts to reconstitute the Policing Board
in their own image has badly backfired, they may have gained
a seat, but the overall anti-Patten bloc on the board has
lost out."

Mr Farren accused the DUP of only being interested in
deprivation in Protestant areas.

The SDLP, he said, by way of contrast must be committed to
tackling it in all areas.

The former Stormont Finance Minister claimed moves to revamp
the Parades Commission, another key demand of the DUP, would
destabilise society and return them to the dark days of

"It would be madness to go along with this destructive
agenda," Mr Farren said.

"That is what we will be telling Tony Blair at our meeting
next week."

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