The 7th IMC report has been made public, assessing paramilitary and criminal activity from 1 March to 31 August this year. Available here [pdf file]. Its general tone could be accurately described as cautious.. maybe, at a stretch, even cautiously optimistic. But the same [cautious, that is] could not be said for Secretary of State, Peter Hain.
In relation to the activities of the Provisional IRA it has this to say –
3.18 In conclusion, on PIRA we emphasise again that as the PIRA statement of 28 July came at a point when 5/6ths of the period under review had already elapsed it is too early to be drawing firm conclusions about possible overall changes in behaviour, although we do note some indications of changes in PIRA structures. Clearly we are looking for cumulative indications of changes in behaviour over a more sustained period of time, building on the PIRA statement of 28 July and the decommissioning of weapons reported by the IICD on 26 September.
While on the UDA its verdict is damning –
3.26 The UDA said in a statement it issued in November 2004 that it would desist from military activity. Whatever meaning the UDA may ascribe to this term, we believe it is clear that the organisation is involved in violent and other serious crime and that it remains an active threat to the rule of law in Northern Ireland. Some of the recent activities of the UDA described above raise questions about the status of the UDA ceasefire. We will address this more fully in our next report.
And equally damning on the UVF –
3.30 The UVF continues to recruit members; some recruits receive extensive training, including in the use of firearms, others receive basic training. The UVF is also involved in organised crime, including drugs. We conclude that the UVF is, in the words of our Fifth Report, active, violent and ruthless and we believe it will continue to use violence where it thinks that would be in its interests. It remains an
extremely dangerous organisation.
But despite these assessments, and the recommendation that, on Sinn Féin –
6.4 We have said earlier in this report that five of the six months under review precede
the PIRA statement and that it is therefore too early for us on this occasion to be drawing firm conclusions about possible changes in the organisations overall
behaviour. Although the initial signs are encouraging we do not therefore make any comment at this stage on the recommendation we previously made about the
financial support Sinn Féin receives in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Nor do we pursue the point we then made separately about whether it should receive public
money from other sources.
and, on the PUP –
6.6 Finally, on the PUP, up to the time of presentation of this report we have not seen evidence which presently causes us to change our previous recommendation on the removal of financial support for the Party in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The IMC’s recommendations are worth noting –
7.3 Article 7 of the International Agreement allows us to recommend:
Any remedial action we consider necessary in respect of the matters on which we are reporting under Article 4.
Any measure we think might appropriately be taken by the Northern Ireland Assembly. This part of the Article does not apply while the Assembly remains unrestored, but that does not prevent us from saying what we would have done had it been sitting, or from making recommendations to the Secretary of State about the exercise of the powers he has in these circumstances. We have done both these things in earlier reports.
7.4 In responding to paramilitary crime we recommend that the Governments of the UK and of Ireland should introduce licensing regimes which would enable the
closure of businesses which have been engaged in the illicit fuel trade and would keep out of the industry all those who have been involved in that illicit trade,
together with anyone fronting for them.
In response, Secretary of State, Peter Hain, has already stated that he will restore the Assembly alloweances to Sinn Féin as well as their Parliamentary expenses.. and he will continue to allow the PUP to receive their Assembly allowance in spite of their continued and restated links to the UVF – and in spite of the repeated recommendation of the IMC first given in the 5th IMC report, published in May, that the PUP’s Assembly allowances be withdrawn.