The IMC's political considerations?

The latest Independent Monitoring Commission report is now available on-line and, with more prominent Sinn Féin representatives otherwise occupied, it falls on SF MP Michelle Gildernew to repeat the mantra, “They have no credibility and the contents of the report are of little interest to nationalists or republicans.” – by which she means Sinn Féin. As the SDLP’s deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell points out – “SF in denial”

While the BBC highlights the report’s finding that “The IRA shows no signs of winding down its capability”, there is another aspect of the report that I wanted to mention.

At the start of their conclusions the IMC state that “We want to do all we can to contribute to our objective[emphasis added] to ‘promote the transition to a peaceful society and stable and inclusive devolved Government in Northern Ireland’.”

Shouldn’t they simply be fulfilling their remit, and monitor and report on paramilitary activity and, where necessary, recommend action to curtail that activity; regardless of any such political objectives?

Update – the BBC summarises the findings on paramilitary activity “Violence levels ‘still high'”

  • willowfield

    The Provos seek to discredit the IMC.

    Can anyone think why?

  • Keith M

    Whetever happened to naming and shaming? If the IMC was to say that the senior IRA people behind the crimes were people like Adams and McGuiness, surely that could only help the case for restoring the executive (and excluding SF/IRA).

    This week’s “SDLP windbag of the week” award goes to McDonald. Enough of the statements, what are the SDLP actually going to DO about it?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    “Windbag of the week”.

    I like that. It sounds like it has the potential for a regular feature…

    Any nominations? Direct quotes would be required, of course.

  • peteb

    Perhaps you should put that suggestion on a different thread, Gonzo?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    I want to join the IMC seems like money for old rope. Doesn’t matter if you make a balls of it, just add a little apology in the middle of the text.
    I bet the four dopes involved can’t believe their luck.

    Would it not be more honest and fiscally prudent just to print the assessment of MI5 and Special Branch, cut out the middle men all together.

  • peteb

    Well, that is the mantra that Michelle was repeating, Pat.

    Any thoughts on the IMC declaring that they would do all they can to contribute to their objective?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Pete,

    As I think you can guage from my first comment I don’t think it has any worthwhile objective at all.

  • J Kelly

    Windbag of the week Mark Durkan in the Derry News today when asked had he any responsibility for the introduction of water charges he said ” I had no hand in bringing in these charges……. water charges were not part of the Reinvestment and Reform Initiative” Well someone is lying John Spellar or Mark Durkan. Did anyone see Spotlight.

  • peteb

    If you don’t mind, J, Gonzo may be posting his own thread on that topic.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Quite right Pat. The IMC is obviously a collection of ‘enemies of the peace process’, as indeed is anyone who criticises nationalist or unionist terrorists/’community workers’.

    The IRA has never robbed Makro, hijacked Gallaher’s cigarette lorries or shot children in the legs. That is simply the imagination of some bloke in MI5 with too much time on his hands.

    Obviously.

  • peteb

    There is another issue here, Gonzo, and it also relates to your thread suggesting that Paul Murphy may drop the existing sanctions against the PUP and SF… given all the information available why are the IMC still pulling their punches?

    It seems to be a result of their political considerations.. and not the paramilitary activity.

  • Liam

    Reports produced by the IMC are based solely on material provided to them by the intelligence services.

    Previous reports have already been exposed as riddled with inaccuracies.

    The IMC has no credibility within the broad nationalist and republican community and the contents of this latest report are of little interest to it.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Liam

    Incorrect on several counts.

    The IMC took evidence for its first report from a variety of sources, which included non-governmental sources. That is, members of the public. This may have been stated publicly by the IMC at the time, but I know this to be correct.

    Previous reports have been riddled with one inaccuracy, when a paramilitary group was suspected of involvement in a murder. It turned out the group was not involved, although paramilitaries may have been.

    Finally, it is only some republicans that have a problem with the IMC. The SDLP supports it.

    peteb

    You’d have to ask the IMC, but it is Murphy who has the power to act on what the IMC tells him, not the IMC.

    I suspect he thinks that all stick and no carrot makes for itchy trigger fingers.

  • peteb

    Yeah but the IMC can make, and have made, recommendations.. given their previous charting of the rise and fall in the levels of violence from paramilitaries (and the connection to political events) it’s difficult to see why they’ve ignored that pattern in this report.

  • Henry94

    Is there anything as boring and irrelevent as the IMC.

    Belfast Gonzo

    The IMC took evidence for its first report from a variety of sources, which included non-governmental sources.

    That’s a croc and we all know it so drop the pretence. There is no evidence here in a legal sense. There is just the twitterings of the Three Stooges based on the political requirements of the British government.

    If there exists evidence then why not charge somebody and produce it in court. The claims of the police are not evidence.

    Having got the murder call wrong in the last report was not what disgraced them. What disgraced them was that they showed themselves to have no idea if it was right or wrong until the PSNI admitted that they had misled them.

    These guys have no idea what they are talking about. They are widbags and a waste of space.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    I’m not sure I follow. The IMC noted the dramatic fall in paramilitary attacks since last they reported. Given the relatively low-level ‘punishment’ handed out by the SoS last time, what could they have recommended as another ‘punishment’ when the paramilitaries have made a reasonable start to winding down their more reprehensible acts?

    I’ve only scanned the report, so will read it later in more detail.

  • peteb

    The point, Gonzo, may be the quote I refenced in the post..

    “We want to do all we can to contribute to our objective[emphasis added] to ‘promote the transition to a peaceful society and stable and inclusive devolved Government in Northern Ireland’.”

    The subtext I’m reading there is ‘and if that means not rocking the boat [despite the public bleatings of the PUP and SF].. so be it.’

  • Belfast Gonzo

    That’s a croc and we all know it so drop the pretence. There is no evidence here in a legal sense. There is just the twitterings of the Three Stooges based on the political requirements of the British government.

    There is no pretence to drop. It is not a croc. I know of someone who gave evidence. It’s that simple.

    If there exists evidence then why not charge somebody and produce it in court. The claims of the police are not evidence.

    The IMC is not a court, but eyewitness evidence is the same whether presented in a Diplock court or to the IMC. The claims of the police are frequently used as evidence. Haven’t you ever been in court? Republicans wouldn’t have faith in the courts – or any body that criticised the IRA – anyway.

    However, evidence is not restricted to a legal definition; it is frequently used in various settings, and is appropriate here.

    What disgraced them was that they showed themselves to have no idea if it was right or wrong until the PSNI admitted that they had misled them.

    The IMC apologised, something that the paramilitaries rarely do when they get it wrong, like when they murder the ‘wrong’ person.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Pete

    I see what you mean. Perhaps you are right. I can’t really comment, as I don’t know the answer.

  • peteb

    No Gonzo… I wasn’t suggesting you did.

    Only the IMC and [possibly] Paul Murphy do.

    But I’ll just add that the IMC are actually paraphrasing when they say their ‘objective’ is to ‘promote the transition to a peaceful society and stable and inclusive devolved Government in Northern Ireland’.”

    Actually that is supposed to be pursued through their accurate [and I would argue transparent] monitoring and reporting (with approporiate recommendations) of paramilitary activity.

    That is all they should be concentrating on. No “all we can do to promote” political considerations should come into play.

  • Henry94

    Belfast Sham

    eyewitness evidence is the same whether presented in a Diplock court or to the IMC

    You can’t justify one sham by reference to another. But evidence is court is public and is open to cross-examination by an accused person. By your definition evidence includes information given to the East German Stazi by neighbours with a grudge. Yes you could stretch the definition but it’s not what we mean when we use the term in relation to any legal or democratic process.

  • peteb

    Henry94

    If you’re going to direct your comments to someone then do them the courtesy of using the name given. That way the same courtesy will be extended to you.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    By your definition evidence includes information given to the East German Stazi by neighbours with a grudge. Yes you could stretch the definition but it’s not what we mean when we use the term in relation to any legal or democratic process.

    Sinn Fein, for example, never used to have problems accepting such evidence or ‘information’ in the past from people with a grudge. Your Stazi comparison is a good one, as the hearsay was sometimes used to silence political critics.

  • Liam

    Finally, it is only some republicans that have a problem with the IMC. The SDLP supports it.

    But of course the SDLP are not a Republican party.

  • peteb

    A question of dubious terminology, Liam.

    They are not a “Republican” party, in the way SF are, but they are a republican party.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Liam

    Gildernew said ‘nationalists and republicans’ do not support the IMC. She is wrong. Republicans don’t, but Nationalists do support it, so my statement stands. I shoulda made this clearer though.

  • Henry94

    Belfast Gonzo

    Sinn Fein, for example, never used to have problems accepting such evidence or ‘information’ in the past from people with a grudge. Your Stazi comparison is a good one, as the hearsay was sometimes used to silence political critics.

    Sinn Fein are a political party. It can say what it likes and it will be judged on a political basis. The IMC is pretending to be an independent commission. It is no such thing. On another thread you are claiming credit for the Alliance Party in a dispute with the UUP over who was responsible for the stunt. In years to come you will be trying to blame each other.

    peteb

    I can honestly say that I did not intentionally post the incorrect name. I was surprised to see it. I may have mistyped and if so I apologise for that.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Sinn Fein are a political party. It can say what it likes and it will be judged on a political basis. The IMC is pretending to be an independent commission. It is no such thing. On another thread you are claiming credit for the Alliance Party in a dispute with the UUP over who was responsible for the stunt. In years to come you will be trying to blame each other.

    Sinn Fein is a political party, but it is not a democratic party. Its close ties to a private army are why it is not being considered for a partnership in government in the Irish Republic.

    You can hardly argue that the IMC is not independent, yet fail to understand that political parties with private armies are somehow ‘independent’ of each other.

    Anyway, if the IRA isn’t up to anything, no-one has anything to worry about and the IMC will go out of business. Then we’ll all be happy.

    As for the blame game, I’m sure you could teach me a thing or two.

  • Henry94

    Belfast Gonzo

    That you have given up any attempt to defend the IMC and have fallen back on the anti-SF stuff shows that you understand the point. That will do me.

  • Liam

    Gonzo
    Sinn Fein is a political party, but it is not a democratic party.

    So achieving 342,000 votes in June, the largest pro-agreement party, the largest Nationalist party, the third largest party in the 26 counties in terms of electoral support, the 3rd largest on the island as a whole, having 2 MEP’s, 24 MLA’s, 4 MP’s, 5 TD’s and hundreds of Councillors – Well knock me down with a feather – but there was I thinking all along that ‘democracy’ meant putting yourself before the people and allowing the people to decide!

    Its close ties to a private army are why it is not being considered for a partnership in government in the Irish Republic.

    Except that the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the 26, said that he envisaged and looked forward to the day ‘soon’ when SF would be in government North and South!

  • smcgiff

    ‘Except that the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the 26, said that he envisaged and looked forward to the day ‘soon’ when SF would be in government North and South!’

    I think we’ve a winner for the most exaggerated comment of the day.

  • Liam

    Dermot Ahern:

    “I believe it is only a matter of time that Sinn Féin will be in government in the future. . .There will come a time, I envisage, when Sinn Féin will be in government in the Republic as they will be in the North and I hope that happens in the future.”

  • smcgiff

    “Obviously circumstances will change, there will come a time I envisage where Sinn Fein will be in government in the republic as they will be in the north and I hope that happens in the future,” Ahern said.

    Also from same comments,

    “But until such time as the IRA demonstrably show that they have put down arms forever and a day, there cannot be two armies,” he said. “That’s the reality and it’s the same in the north as it is in the republic.”

    The Sinn Fein that presently exists and the Sinn Fein that he hopes will be in government will be unrecognisable from each other. In no way does he suggest that he’d like to see the present SF in government in the ROI.

  • Henry94

    Ruling people out of coalitions is an olld tradition in Irish politics and one not to be taken too seriously.

    For Fianna Fail it was a “core value” not to go into coalition at all until they did. For the PDs the whole point of their existence was to keep Charlie Haughey out of power, until they went into government with him.

    John Bruton ruled out coalition with Democratic Left until he went into coalition with them.

    Fine Gael and Labour rule out coalition with Fianna Fail but a Fianna Fail/Labour coalition is still the most likely next government.

    Sinn Fein of course will be in government if the win a majority or can find other TDs to form a majority with them. Under the rules they are in the exact same position as every other party.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Gonzo

    “Quite right Pat. The IMC is obviously a collection of ‘enemies of the peace process’, as indeed is anyone who criticises nationalist or unionist terrorists/’community workers’.”

    I don’t know what the IMC is but it does seem like a collection of has beens and quango merchants. Your defence of your former leader and his colleagues is quite admirable but propagandist none the less.

    The last IMC report showed what a bunch of inept idiots we had to rely on for the ‘truth’. In dealing with one well publicised case they called it wrong to the distress of the family involved. They also called it wrong in the case of RIRA informer Gareth O Connor. The court case of the 4 people in the attempted PSNI frame up exposed the IMC in that particular story. The IMC relying heavily on their PSNI information were once again made to look extremely foolish and naive.
    Although as one of the members rightly stated, ‘we aren’t experts’.
    There we have it, a bunch of non experts trying to work their way through the intelligence and black ops minefield.
    But hey, it is not just the PSNI and MI5 who give them information, after all due to the collapsed and collapsing court cases recently it would be wrong to have the integrity of the IMC impinged, if their sole source was the ‘security services’.

    Yes Gonzo, anonymous members of the public can give ‘evidence’. So we can have a collection of Willie Frazer clones and various other deadbeats giving unsubstantiated evidence. ‘It wuz the IRA what did it’.

    One has to laugh at the attempts of the IMC to make republican dissidents sound ferocious. No it’s not good enough to lay the blame for most violence squarely at unionists. The threat of the CIRA and RIRA has to be talked up. The RIRA defunct and beaten since Omagh. The CIRA a group so ruthless that it has failed to kill a single person.
    But the IMC has to be balanced , UVF,UDA,LVF killings and feuds has to be balanced with something. How to get the Provos involved? A robbery in Dunmurry thats how. Well who else could have done it? Republican punishment shootings thats another. Doesn’t matter if its the INLA or CIRA lets be ambiguous enough to be able to get the Provos into the frame. After all it will keep the UUP and DUP happy and guarantee us our expenses for another couple of years. The former Alliance leader and Assembly speaker has to pay the bills you know.

    “Anyway, if the IRA isn’t up to anything, no-one has anything to worry about and the IMC will go out of business. Then we’ll all be happy.”

    A slip of the veil there Gonzo, the problem really is the IRA in your mind. Not the UVF,LVF or UDA it’s the IRA. In that one sentence you highlight why the overwhelming majority of nationalists view the IMC as a joke and an extension of the propaganda arm of the NIO. But as long as the PSNI and MI5 say the IRA is a problem then the IMC will exist. A self fulfilling prohecy for all concerned and the expenses keep rolling in.

  • Davros

    Sinn Fein of course will be in government if the win a majority or can find other TDs to form a majority with them. Under the rules they are in the exact same position as every other party.

    Quite right Henry and that is right and proper.

    SF are reported as saying that they wouldn’t be a junior partner in any coalition, so it looks as if it will be a long time before they will form part of a Government in the ROI.

  • Henry94

    Davros

    Who knows what’s yet to come.

  • North Antrim Realist

    Henry/Pat/Liam

    Let us forget about the IMC.

    Have the IRA in the recent past stolen cigarettes, shot adults and children or carried out extortion?

    There are only 3 possible answers yes – no – don’t know.

    If it is yes, then all the IMC comments stand.

    If it is no, how do you know?

    If it is don’t know, then you shouldn’t comment on things you know nothing of.

    Let us hear which it is.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    NAR,

    I can only comment about my own area of N Belfast. The answer to your question is while the IRA undoubtedly exists, I believe no. They were prominent during the 12th night when they intervened before the paratroopers opened fire and thus prevented a potentially devastating scenario. But since then, no activity at all.

    Perhaps you can give me evidence of the cigarette stealing, shooting of adults and kids and the extortion. Based on your evidence I will make a more definitive judgement.

  • Henry94

    NAR

    That would be a no if for no other reason than the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

    Let us forget about the IMC.

    Good idea.

  • North Antrim Realist

    Unlike others I am making no statements as to whether they have or haven’t – I don’t personally know. I do know loyalists have been involved in extortion in the building industry.

    Those who have the infomation on the ground in Nationlist Republican areas will know very well if the IRA are indulging in these pursuits.

    Innocent until found guilty, does not mean that those who have no information should make definitive statements as to their innocence. They should say I will listen to those who do know or wait until the facts are available.

  • Henry94

    NAR

    I will listen to those who do know or wait until the facts are available.

    Those who claim to know need to produce their evidence. Setting up the IMC to give a semi-judicial veneer to the opinions of the PSNI doesn’t cut it.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Oh, Pat, you are a silly little boy living in complete and utter denial if you think that it is just the IRA that bothers me. I only alluded to them, as that is what seems to be within your sphere of knowledge.

    I suggest you read the rest of yesterday’s threads for my thoughts on loyalist groups. But sure, it wouldn’t be like you to be selective, would it.

  • peteb

    The flip side, Gonzo, is that Pat and Henry are the ones pre-occupied with the IRA (at least as far as the IMC goes).. are they really saying that the IMC’s findings on ALL paramilitary activity is suspect – or just that ascribed to the IRA?

  • Davros

    Interesting question Pete.

  • North Antrim Realist

    It is an interesting point – should the IMC make all it’s sources and information available?

    Upside – we can all judge for ourselves.

    Downside – the sources of the information (outside the security services) may be in danger.

    Since people potentially being in danger will always be the winner, I suppose in the end you will either see the IMC and independent, thorough and truthful and equally damning on both sides or you won’t.

  • peteb

    I would still point out the note of caution in the original post NAR…

    Their declaration that “we will do all we can to promote our [political] objective” should be a major concern to everyone.. despite the bleatings of some parties.

  • Henry94

    peteb

    are they really saying that the IMC’s findings on ALL paramilitary activity is suspect

    Of course it is. The problem is not what the IMC are saying but the IMC itself. There is simply no basis for it. If the British government want to take a position on the status of ceasefires based on police information then they should dispense with the charade of the IMC and take a position.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Gonzo,

    I was replying in detail to your post of 4.26pm were the topic was solely the IRA. But as I’m sure you have followed all elements of the media you will have noted the domination of the IRA in the proceedings.
    Even if you take this report at face value the focus of the report should have been on loyalists. The IRA have been responsible for next to nothing.
    As I have stated the IRA are out there, because of that they are fully armed and functional. But their activites are virtually nil. But ti have highlighted that would have displeased the UUP and DUP.

    “are they really saying that the IMC’s findings on ALL paramilitary activity is suspect – or just that ascribed to the IRA?”

    Pete I believe that I could ascribe 95% of all incidents here to one side or the other fairly quickly. I don’t have vast resources or indeed the input of MI5 or the PSNI to do so. The IMC have no function in my opinion.

    “Their declaration that “we will do all we can to promote our [political] objective” should be a major concern to everyone.. despite the bleatings of some parties.”

    Correct Pete, this is even recognised by of all people the Irish Independent. It’s editorial while recognising the non activity of republicans states that the focus should be on them. As SF stated they saw the IMC as a weapon to be used to stymie the process. The Independent tacitly admits this.

  • North Antrim Realist

    PeteB

    You should use the statement as quoted

    “We want to do all we can to contribute to our objective to ‘promote the transition to a peaceful society and stable and inclusive devolved Government in Northern Ireland’.”

    I am quite happy to agree to that objective as I am sure are the vast majority of people in NI; the question is – are they working within their objectives?

  • Davros

    As I recall 2 SF councillors from Short Strand originally supported the idea of an IMC before being resoundingly slapped down by HQ 😉

  • peteb

    So Pat and Henry

    Neither of you seem prepared to dispute the findings of the IMC, you just want to focus on undermining the actual body itself and thereby imply that it’s findings on paramilitary activity are suspect.

    And, Pat, please don’t ascribe your opinions to me when it’s clear that I don’t agree with them.

    The referenced quote I gave was, in full, “We want to do all we can to contribute to our objective to ‘promote the transition to a peaceful society and stable and inclusive[emphasis added] devolved Government in Northern Ireland’.”

    That is where I see “political considerations” coming into play – as I have made clear throughout this thread.

    Your defintion of the IMC’s objective is very different to mine [and, I suspect, that of the Irish independent] and it would be better if you made that clear.

  • peteb

    I did in the original post, NAR. The problem arose because Pat chose to misinterpret the meaning when I quoted it again.

  • peteb

    Almost Davros

    They wanted the monitoring to be restricted to ‘interface areas’.. but you’re right that after the PIRA issued a statement condemning the idea of a wider monitoring body the two councillors concerned never mentioned it again.

  • Davros

    Were the two councillors ever seen again pete ? 😉

  • Henry94

    peteb

    Neither of you seem prepared to dispute the findings of the IMC

    I wouldn’t dignify them with the term findings. Repeating what the PSNI told you doesn’t involve finding anything.

    We need another word. Toldings?

  • peteb

    And so we return to the same point you avoided before Henry, “are they really saying that the IMC’s findings on ALL paramilitary activity is suspect – or just that ascribed to the IRA?”

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Pete,

    I admit I was coming at the report from the opposite direction to you. But the political connatations of the report cannot be denied. You should have been less cryptic in your use of the quotation. If you leave an open goal i’ll stick the ball in the net.
    What is the use of a Commission that was put in place for unionists that reports solely on unionist violence? Thus republican groups are talked up and their potential for violence exaggerated. The title ‘republican’ is deliberately left unspecific so that it is a catch all title. It is a unionist report for unionist consumption, that is why it is rejected by the majority of nationalists.

    “So Pat and Henry

    Neither of you seem prepared to dispute the findings of the IMC,”

    Of course I do. I will always dispute anonymous briefings by MI5 operatives and Special Branch officers, plus the internet offerings of the Willie Frazers of this world.

    Davros & Pete

    Unfortunately for SF in S Strand they only have one councillor in the area, Joe O Donnell. He may have disappeared under the foundations of one of his proposed dwellings.

  • peteb

    Pat

    Since you were perfectly aware of the full sentence, and the context in which I originally used it, I have to say that scoring cheap debating points is not helpful to anyone… and although Davros placed the two councillors in S Strand… I didn’t.

    So which is it, are you disputing only what the IMC has to say on IRA activity, or that AND the UDA/UVF activity?

  • Henry94

    peteb

    I thought I had made it clear but I’ll try again. Nothing the IMC say about any organisation can be taken seriously because of what it is.

    For example if the IMC say that the XYZ killed Cock Robin I wouldn’t take it seriously because all they are really saying is the PSNI think it. Or say they do for their own reasons.

  • peteb

    You’ll forgive me if I don’t believe that you are disputing the findings of the IMC on the actitivies of UDA and UVF, Henry.

    “because of what it is” is just attacking (what you see as) the messenger again.. just call them ‘anti-republican’ and get it over with.

  • Henry94

    peteb

    I don’t believe or disbelieve anything about the UVF or UDA on the basis of the IMC reports.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    “Since you were perfectly aware of the full sentence, and the context in which I originally used it, I have to say that scoring cheap debating points is not helpful to anyone… and although Davros placed the two councillors in S Strand… I didn’t.”

    The report is political and those appointed are partisan political appointees. Not a cheap debating point , my beliefs. There political mandate is to keep the IRA centre stage and by default SF. That is entirely in keeping with the I.I. editorial.
    On the 2 SF councillors read your 12.56pm post, unless Davros is posting for you, I believe that is your post.

    “So which is it, are you disputing only what the IMC has to say on IRA activity, or that AND the UDA/UVF activity?”

    I’m clearly stating that in my opinion the IMC report is useless. On activity by all groups I only have to stick my head out the door to see if it’s raining. I hardly need 3 waged blow ins and a failed politico to tell me what I can see for myself.

  • Millie

    At least the IMC serves a useful function in that it ratifies the extent of paramilitary activity for all to see. In the context of the last 35 years most of it is small fry, but I’m sure most people would agree that murder, violence against the person and intimidation, are the main things we all want to see and end of.

    Smuggling, robberies and other scams aren’t that big a deal in the scheme of things although totally unacceptable. However, the border isn’t any different from borders all around the world. To many it’s an imposition that ruined many a natural hinterland and people are going to be making scams out of it for as long as it’s there.