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Independent Monitoring Commission

Volume 458: debated on Monday 12 March 2007

I have received the Fourteenth Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC). This report was made under Article 5(1) of the International Agreement which established the Commission, and is their third of four reports on the security normalisation programme. I have considered the content of the Report and am today bringing it before Parliament. I have placed copies in the Library of the House.

I am pleased to inform the House that the Commission assesses that the commitments made by the Government in the security normalisation programme have been met. Commitments made in the areas of military support to the police, the police estate, police patrolling, and the repeal of counter-terrorist legislation particular to Northern Ireland have all been met thus far. I am satisfied that the security normalisation programme remains appropriate and manageable.

I am also encouraged that the IMC remain of the view that PIRA is firmly committed to the political path and that the organisation does not pose a threat relevant to security normalisation. The IMC have concluded that the organisation is not engaged in terrorist activity and the leadership continues to encourage members to undertake political or community activity. There have been further positive changes in the security context in Northern Ireland resulting from the developments at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis on 28 January 2007 which pledged support for policing and the rule of law. This is the eighth IMC report since the IRA announced its armed campaign had ended in July 2005, each one progressively confirming delivery of commitment promised then, including driving criminality out of the organisation.

Conversely, dissident republicans remain committed to terrorism and continue to engage in terrorist activity. The IMC have reported that although dissident republican organisations do not have the capacity to mount a serious and sustained campaign, they pose a continuing threat to both the security forces and the wider community.

In terms of loyalist paramilitaries, the IMC conclude that although they are actively engaged in violence and other forms of serious crime, they do not pose a problem for security normalisation. There is evidence of senior figures seeking to lead the organisation away from crime. This is to be welcomed, but there is more to be done.

I am grateful to the Commissioners for the detailed analysis contained in this report. I anticipate their final report on the programme in September which will review the implementation of the programme as a whole.