Independent Monitoring Commssion report published

The fifth report of the Independent Monitoring Commssion has been published and is available here. Updated againIn a detailed and wide-ranging report on all the paramilitary groups and their activities the IMC, as had been indicated, state that –

PIRA continues to seek to maintain its medium term effectiveness. It recruits and trains new members, including in the use of firearms and explosives. It continues to gather intelligence.

And in it’s conclusions the report notes –

– In view of the judicial review proceedings in the Northern Ireland courts, and bearing in mind the judgment, it is timely to restate that the role of the IMC stems from the International Agreement and its embodiment in the law of the UK and of Ireland, and that the enactment of these laws by the respective Parliaments gives full democratic legitimacy to that role.

Paramilitary groups continue to be active in violent and other crime and none have materially wound down their capability to commit violent or other crime. It continues to be the case that dissident republican groups are the most committed to continuing terrorism.

– We dislike the use of the word “punishment” in connection with the vicious assaults and shootings which paramilitary groups inflict on their victims, and believe that the time has come to stop giving it currency, though we recognise the obligation of the media to report accurately those public figures who themselves use the term.

– For the most part the downward trend in paramilitary violence has continued though the number of paramilitary murders was comparable to that in the previous two six month periods. Loyalist groups remain responsible for more violence than republican ones.

There is no sign that paramilitary groups have reduced their use of exiling, and none we have found that they are agreeing to the general return of those they have exiled or that they are considering doing so.

– While we know that ex-prisoners have been amongst those who work to promote peace and to develop communities, there are indications that a considerable proportion of the prisoners released under the terms of the Belfast Agreement have re-engaged in paramilitary activities or have become involved in organised crime, or both.

– We remain concerned by the extent and nature of the involvement of paramilitary groups in organised crime and are struck by the range of criminal activities of some groups.

We do not believe that the control and licensing regimes which apply to licensed premises, security firms or taxis sufficiently reflect multi-agency thinking or face the challenge of paramilitary involvement in business of this kind. We think they should do so, as one means of bearing down on paramilitary groups in all possible ways.

– We note the establishment in due course of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency in the UK and will follow its contribution.

– We welcome the amendments made to the law and guidelines on the Assets Recovery Agency in Northern Ireland and the law relating to the Criminal Assets Bureau in the South and continue to emphasise the importance of assets recovery in both jurisdictions in combating paramilitary organised crime.

[Emphasis added]