30/01/2007

IMC reports republican terrorism and violence 'abandoned'

Today's Independent Monitoring Commission's report has said that republican terrorism and violence has been "abandoned".

The 13th IMC report, which was published today, recognised Sinn Fein's decision last weekend to support the PSNI, which was deemed a major step forward in the IRA's move to end its violent campaign.

The report said that the IMC considered the overall view as positive and that the developments over the past six months had been in the right direction.

The report said: “In support of this we noted the disbandment of paramilitary structures; the continuation of instructions to members not to use physical force; the leadership’s maintenance of a firm stance against the involvement of members in criminality; and the key and personal role played by senior members to secure a peaceful parades season.

“We also said that PIRA had not engaged in terrorist-type activity such as recruitment, training, targeting, the procurement of weapons, engineering activity or intelligence gathering. Nor in our view had there been any organisational involvement in robbery or other such organised crime.”

The report added that the firm stance the leadership had taken against the use of force, and its eschewing of terrorist and other forms of crime, had not prevented some members from being involved in violence or threats, or in other crimes for personal gain. But the IMC were "satisfied these individual activities were contrary to the express injunctions of the leadership.”

The IMC's report continued: “The decision of the Ard Fheis held on 28 January 2007 to support policing and the criminal justice system was a very major development. That decision and the efforts invested by the leadership of the republican movement in presenting the arguments in favour of the change were further substantial evidence of their commitment to the democratic process.”

It continued by saying that opposing opinions on the issue of policing became more widely expressed within the movement in the months under review and significant leadership effort was made to sustain the momentum of the strategy. The expression of differences of opinion is of itself a healthy part of the democratic process and these disagreements have been articulated by political rather than violent means.

The IMC said that while some people left the movement in addition to two groupings – éirígí and the 'Republican Defence Army' – a new loose-knit one had emerged calling itself 'Republican Congress and Concerned Republicans', which had focused particularly on the issue of policing.

But the IMC noted that "the leadership engaged in dialogue with this grouping, as it did with the movement generally in advance of the Ard Fheis."

In regards to the provisionals use of violence or intimidation, the IMC said that they are clear that the organisation has eschewed the use of violence, and its activities have not been either for the purpose of or led to violence. In some cases members or the wider community have expressed strong views about those believed to be responsible for anti-social behaviour or other low-level crime, but PIRA has not responded by using violence.

It added that a number of Provisionals had taken up roles in Sinn Fein and had also resisted community pressure to carry out so-called punishment beatings, shootings and expulsions.

The report concluded by stating that “terrorism and violence” had been abandoned.

The Independent Monitoring Commission was set up in 2004 by the British and Irish governments and is made up of four commissioners from Britain, Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland and the USA.

The Commission concentrates on monitoring paramilitary activity in the province, as well as monitoring the “normalisation” of security measures in Northern Ireland.

(EF/SP)

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