Sinn Fein allowances restored on IRA inactivity

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain has confirmed that Sinn Fein is to be given back its £120,000 in Assembly allowances.

The decision was announced in Parliament following the publication of the sixth Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) report which said that there was "no evidence" of IRA "training or recruitment" after the groups July 28 decommissioning statement.

Mr Hain also said he would be asking the House of Commons to restore another £500,000 in Westminster allowances to Sinn Fein's four MPs.

Wednesday's report by the IMC on IRA activity said: "In the period before the (end of armed struggle) statement, PIRA in Northern Ireland continued to recruit and give briefings on personal security and counter-surveillance to new and existing members of the organisation.

"We believe that in the early part of the period under review in this report training took place, including in the use of weapons. We have no evidence of training or recruitment after the 28 July statement. There are indications that the organisation’s intelligence function remained active though its focus may be becoming more political. There has also been some identifying of drug dealers, though it is not clear for what purpose."

However, on the loyalist side, the IMC said both the UDA and the UVF, the two main organisations, had continued with their campaign of violence and organised crime.

In the case of the UDA, the IMC said the group had "remained active throughout this period" and that it had "supported sectarian intimidation against Catholics in Ahoghill". "During the summer the organisation considered mounting attacks against police and prison officers," it added.

The UVF, it said, continued to be involved in organised crime, including drugs, and that "it continued to target people it believed were members or associates of the LVF".

In conclusion, the IMC said that while the level of paramilitary violence remained high on the loyalist side, the downward trend in the total number of shooting casualties had continued.

The total number of casualties of assaults, meanwhile, has remained the same for 18 months, though it is a good deal less than it was over the period from March 2003–February 2004.

Earlier this week there was speculation that the LVF may be prepared to 'stand down'.


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