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Independent Reporting Commission

Volume 648: debated on Tuesday 23 October 2018

I have received the first substantive report from the Independent Reporting Commission (IRC).

The IRC was established by the UK Government and the Irish Government by way of an international treaty to report on progress towards ending paramilitary activity connected with Northern Ireland. This emanated from the Fresh Start agreement of November 2015. The agreement set out the Northern Ireland Executive’s responsibility for tackling paramilitary activity and associated criminality. This work is being taken forward through a Northern Ireland Executive action plan which contains 43 recommendations.

This is a significant report which benchmarks the progress which has been achieved to date and reminds us of the challenging work still to be done to ensure that communities are freed from the threat of paramilitarism.

The absence of a functioning Executive has obviously had an impact on this important work. Despite intensive efforts it has not yet been possible for the parties in Northern Ireland to reach political agreement. I remain resolute in finding a way forward in relation to that. This is why I am taking legislation through this House to provide for a limited period in which the parties can engage in talks and form an Executive.

I have today presented this report, along with the IRC’s annual report and accounts for 2017-18, to Parliament.

I would like to thank the commissioners for all of their work to date.