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3 February 2005 Edition

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Watchdogs or pet poodles?

The Independent Monitoring Commission's special report on the Northern Bank raid, which is expected to be sent to the British Government this week, will prove once again that this body was set up with one aim only - to undermine the positive contribution made by republicans to the peace process.

We confidently predict that it will hold no surprises: John Alderdice, John Grieve, Richard Kerr and Joe Brosnan will have examined the 'evidence' currently in the possession of PSNI Chief Hugh Orde and Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy, and come to exactly the same conclusion - the IRA was responsible for the December robbery.

One small fact will be omitted when the media reports on the IMC's latest 'independent' observations on an already shaky process - nobody has seen any evidence to implicate the IRA.

The 'independent' IMC won't let this stand in its way. It certainly didn't let the lack of evidence impede its specially commissioned report on the Bobby Tohill kidnapping last year.

The so-called watchdog of the peace process, agreed by the governments outside the terms of the Agreement, has, as republicans said it would, acted as an agent of the British state since its inception.

Over the past six years, unionists have used a string of allegations as pretexts for excluding Sinn Féin from power-sharing. The IMC is a convenient tool for legitimising the unionist agenda, which is actually to avoid recognising the republican mandate.

For republicans, the most frustrating aspect of all this is the double standard applied to the peace process.

Who is monitoring the two governments? Who sanctions the British Government for reneging on the commitments it made on demilitarisation, policing, independent public inquiries into collusion?

And of course the Assembly remains suspended.

And what of the Dublin Government, which has witnessed now two investigations by an Oireachtas Committee into bombings in the state in the 1970s, both of which the British Government has refused to cooperate with.

The Dublin Government has failed to seek the truth on behalf of its citizens - instead it knocks on the open door of the Guiseppe Conlon case, demanding an apology that the British had already condescended to give.

On Wednesday, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern attempted to drive another nail in the coffin of the peace process, claiming he now knows the IRA were responsible for several robberies last year.

The pretence that the IRA is the only impediment to the peace process, and the subsequent punishment of Sinn Féin, goes on.

All it achieves is alienating nationalists and republicans, who don't need the pet poodles of the IMC to tell them who is holding up the peace process.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1