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14 December 2006 Edition

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IMC - tool of the securocrats

Sinn Féin’s case seeking a declaration that the establishment of the so-called Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) was unlawful is being heard this week in London.
The IMC was set up in 2004 with a remit to ‘monitor’ British commitments on demilitarisation in the North, ‘any continuing activity’ by other armed groups and to handle claims by parties that Ministers or other parties in the Six County Assembly were not abiding by the Ministerial pledge of office or were not committed to ‘non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means’.
The IMC submits formal reports to both the British Government and Irish Government.
Sinn Féin has always resolutely opposed any role for the IMC in the peace process
Speaking while on his way to London to attend the court case Sinn Féin Newry/Armagh MP Conor Murphy said: “ When the IMC was established Sinn Féin made clear our absolute opposition to this body. It was established outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and has proven itself to be little more than a tool of anti-peace process securocrats.
“ The decision to challenge the legality of the IMC was the latest stage in our legal and political campaign against the IMC and the cover it has provided for the British government to sanction and discriminate against our electorate.
“ In this case we will be arguing that the establishment of the IMC was unlawful. We will be arguing that the IMC should be declared unlawful on the grounds of apparent bias and lack of any application of standards of proof. We are seeking the reports of the IMC to date declared void and the reliance on these reports by the British Secretary of State declared unlawful.
“ Sinn Féin has consistently rejected the IMC and its attacks on our party and electorate. It is undemocratic, unaccountable and entirely unacceptable and our campaign to ensure that the British government returns to the Good Friday Agreement position on sanctions against those in breach of the Agreement will continue.”
Early in December 2005 Conor Murphy began proceedings in the High Court in London to have the establishment of the IMC declared unlawful.

Sinn Féin is challenging:
  • The IMC’s right to recommend sanctions against political parties
  • The IMC’s lack of independence
  • The IMC’s political bias
  • IMC procedures and its failure to apply any proper standards of proof

The IMC can in no way be construed as an independent body. Its four members are all political appointees with their own political baggage. John Alderdice is a former leader of the Alliance Party and an avowed political opponent of Sinn Féin. He is currently the President of the International Liberal Alliance.
John Grieve, formerly of the London Metropolitan Police, expressed a desire to become an Assistant Chief Constable in the discredited RUC, a force he held in high regard. He is Chairman of the John Grieve Centre which has a financial relationship with the PSNI. PSNI members lecture and train at the Centre.
Richard Kerr is a former Deputy Director of the CIA, while Joe Brosnan is a former senior official on the Irish Department of Justice.
The IMC’s primary sources are the PSNI, British Army, NIO and British intelligence agencies.

Standards of Proof
When challenged by solicitors about the standards of proof they employ the IMC said: “We are not bound by the strict rules of evidence applicable in a court of law.”  In fact, the IMC’s procedures are fundamentally flawed. It refuses to hold public hearings, denies affected parties any opportunity to be present when evidence is being heard, and denies affected parties access to documentation or information or any opportunity to challenge allegations against them.
IMC reports are peppered with phrases such as ‘we believe’, ‘we are persuaded’, ‘may be attributable’, ‘we are convinced’, ‘we are satisfied’ etc., without ever presenting a single shred of evidence to back up their assertions.

Incompetence
When challenged about the inaccuracies contained in their reports to date the IMC have been unable to provide answers.
These include their attribution of the death of Michael O’Hare in a fire in Bangor in March 2003 to unionist paramilitaries.
The Commission wrongly said that the INLA was made up of “disaffected members of the Official IRA and the Provisional IRA following the 1972 ceasefire.”
In its October 2005 report, the IMC made a series of unsubstantiated allegations against the IRA which do not stand up to scrutiny. For example they refer to two assaults which they attribute to the IRA. We questioned the truth of these allegations and asked for information on these two assaults from the British government. The IMC has been unable to provide any evidence that these incidents ever occurred.


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