“Cannot be regarded as committed to non-violence”

Given the conclusion reached by the IMC, in their most recent report – “Sinn Féin cannot be regarded as committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means so long as its links to PIRA remain as they are and PIRA continues to be engaged in violence or other crime” – it’s difficult to see how the report’s recommendations can be viewed as anything other than wholly inadequate.That quote in context (page 7-8, paragraphs 13-14) –

In our first report, published by the two Governments in April 2004, we said that it was difficult to be precise about the relationship between Sinn Féin and the PIRA or about the PIRA’s decision-making processes but we summarised what we believed to be the situation in these words:

“– Some members, including some senior members, of Sinn Féin are also members, including, in some cases, senior members of PIRA.

– Sinn Féin, particularly through its senior members, is in a position to exercise considerable influence on PIRA’s major policy decisions, even if it is not in a
position actually to determine what policies or operational strategies the PIRA will adopt. We believe that decisions of the republican movement as a whole
about these matters lie more with the leadership of PIRA than with Sinn Féin.

– Within the PIRA some decisions follow a process of consultation with the membership initiated by the leadership”.

We went on to conclude that Sinn Féin had to bear its responsibility for the continuation by PIRA of illegal paramilitary activity and had to recognise the implications of being in this position.

We draw the same conclusion about the responsibility of Sinn Féin in relation to the recent series of abductions and robberies. In our view Sinn Féin must bear its share of responsibility for all the incidents. Some of its senior members, who are also senior members of PIRA, were involved in sanctioning the series of robberies. Sinn Féin cannot be regarded as committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means so long as its links to PIRA remain as they are and PIRA continues to be engaged in violence or other crime. Although we note Sinn Féin has said it is opposed to criminality of any kind it appears at times to have its own definition of what constitutes a crime. We do not believe the party has sufficiently discharged its responsibility to exert all possible influence to prevent illegal activities on the part of PIRA.[my emphasis]

As the IMC report acknowledges (page 9 paragraphs 20-21) –

If the Northern Ireland Assembly was now sitting we would be recommending the implementation of the full range of measures listed in paragraph 12,
including exclusion from office. We say this recognising that this would have implications for the running of the Executive and the Assembly.

And, so, their recommendation is –

…in the light of the provisions of the
legislation we have decided to recommend that the Secretary of State should consider exercising the powers he has in the absence of the Assembly to implement the measures which are presently applicable, namely the financial ones.

with a hint at possible further financial penalties for others to implement –

It has also been suggested that Sinn Féin should not continue to receive public money from other sources if they are denied it in the context of the Northern Ireland Assembly. However, this is outside the measures available to us to recommend.