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Northern Ireland: Independent Monitoring Commission

Volume 701: debated on Thursday 1 May 2008

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Shaun Woodward) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I have received the eighteenth report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC). This report has been made under Articles 4 and 7 of the international agreement that established the commission and it reports on levels of paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland. I have considered the content of the report and I am today bringing it before Parliament. I have placed copies in the Library of the House.

The report confirms the assessment made in previous reports that PIRA continues to be committed to a political path and the belief that it will not be diverted from it. The IMC highlights that the “organisation continues to work with the policing institutions and encourages interaction with PSNI, including reporting crime”.

The report illustrates that the threat from dissident republicans is still prevalent. This includes Oglaigh na hÉireann (ONH) which the IMC considers to be “more seriously active in the six months under review”, remaining a continuing and serious threat, and that the Continuity IRA(CIRA) “remain active, dangerous and determined”. There is also evidence of dissidents having sought to target the homes and places of work of PSNI officers and of members of the public. The IMC recognise that the police and intelligence agencies North and South have maintained a high level of effort against dissident republicans. It is important to note that dissidents have no popular support, and will not be a destabilising force.

In relation to loyalism, the IMC highlights that loyalists will be judged on delivery, one of the key elements to this being decommissioning. The IMC assessment of the UVF illustrates the organisation’s continuing efforts to pursue its 3 May 2007 statement. The commission recognises the UDA statement of 11 November 2007 as an important “statement of intent”.

I welcome the IMC's analysis of normalisation and the end of transition. It is clear to all that “transition can not continue indefinitely”. This is especially true of decommissioning and as such we all await the completion of devolution.

The IMC also provided an assessment of the killing of Paul Quinn. The IMC reported that this brutal murder was clearly contrary to the instructions and strategy of the leadership of PIRA. It is aware of no evidence linking the leadership of PIRA to the incident.

The Government will look closely at the conclusions reached by the IMC.

Once again, I am grateful to the commission for the submission of this report and for its careful analysis. The report offers a clear picture of both the extraordinary progress made and the challenges ahead to secure an end to paramilitarism in Northern Ireland.