4 September 2008 Edition
Issue of IRA dealt with - now it's time for political delivery
A REPORT by the so-called Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) has stated that the IRA Army Council is ‘no longer operational or functional’.
Sinn Féin has always resolutely opposed any role in the peace process for the IMC, which has been seen at various stages of the Peace Process as a tool of British securocrats.
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 North’s Executive 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. The Governments had asked the IMC to compile this latest ‘special report’ on the status of IRA structures.
Prior to the report’s publication, the North’s joint First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson has made the issue of the IRA’s Army Council the latest in a series of unionist preconditions to the full delivery of the commitments made at St Andrews and in particular the transfer of policing and justice powers from Britain to the North.
In the report, made public on Wednesday afternoon, the IMC declared that the IRA had dismantled its military structures.
In its 12-page report the IMC said: “We are aware of the questions posed about the public disbandment of the Provisional IRA’s leadership structures.
“We believe that PIRA has chosen another method of bringing what it describes as its armed struggle to a final close.
“Under PIRA’s own rules the Army Council was the body that directed its military campaign. Now that that campaign is well and truly over, the Army Council by deliberate choice is no longer operational or functional.”
The IMC also said that it did not expect any IRA announcements on the issue.
“There have not been and we do not foresee that there will be formal announcements about the disbandment of all or parts of the structure”, the report said.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams responding to Wednesday’s IMC report said:
“The IRA left the stage some time ago. That’s clear to anyone who wants to examine this issue fairly. And while you know Sinn Féin’s position on the IMC, that body confirmed that today.
“Republicans are totally committed to purely peaceful and democratic means of pursuing our entirely legitimate democratic and republican objectives.
“We are committed to making these institutions work in the interests of all our people and to the full implementation of all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement.
“So, the issue of the IRA has been dealt with definitively. All concerns have been met. This issue is gone.
“We now have to work together to make this partnership government work and to deliver for people on the many bread and butter issues that concern them at this time.
“I have no doubt that citizens want these institutions to deliver for them; to tackle the real issues of fuel; poverty; general increases in the cost of living; crime; housing and much more.
“Tomorrow Sinn Féin and the DUP will meet to discuss outstanding issues. Sinn Féin is entering these discussions to secure progress on all of these matters.
Speaking to An Phoblacht on Wednesday evening Gerry Adams said that the real issue was not and never was the IRA.
“The real political issues that need dealt with are those of health, education, the credit crunch and the cost of living.
“There are real and genuine concerns out there, and not just among republicans and nationalists about the commitment of all of the parties in the Assembly to the concept of Partnership government”, he said.
“The IMC has today merely confirmed what the IRA itself stated some time ago in regarding its intentions and programmes.
“Republicans have always opposed the IMC because it was set up as a sop to unionists. But now that it has said what the whole world knows to be the case, it clearly draws a line under this issue..
“It means that the focus should be where it should have been ever since the St Andrews Agreement - on the delivery of poltical progress across a range of issues”, Adams said.
Reacting to the IMC report, the 26 County Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern said that he hoped that “the political parties in the North can now complete the process of devolution by assuming responsibility for policing and justice powers.
“Such a move would be clearly in the interests of the people they serve and, for my part, I look forward to co-operating fully with the new arrangements”, he said.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reacted to the IMC report by saying that, “It is now time for all the political parties to work together to complete the final stages of the peace process - to complete the devolution of policing and justice.
“In the next few days, I will use all my efforts, working with the parties in Northern Ireland, to make sure that the devolution of policing and justice can go ahead and the final stages of the peace process will now be completed, to the better government of Northern Ireland and to the peace and prosperity of the people there.”
Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness respond to IMC report