Discuss. Previously: IMC on Leadership, continued
6. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.1 We draw the following points from the preceding Sections:
. The process of transition to a society where a culture of lawfulness is the norm is bound to be complex and will involve internal debate within communities and paramilitary groups in which the role of the leadership will be crucial. We think there are indications of a dynamic of change occurring in Northern Ireland, though it is patchy in its occurrence and impact;
. Whatever the process of transition may involve for individual groups or communities there can be no dilution of the principle that the rule of law must prevail;
. We continue to believe that properly administered community restorative justice has an important role to play in helping wean communities away from reliance on, and control by, paramilitaries. We note its continuing development. We are aware nevertheless of instances where members of the public believe that these schemes have been exploited by paramilitaries as a means of continuing their control in a more respectable guise and we believe there have been instances of this. We do not wish the reputation of community restorative justice to be tarnished and so it is essential that paramilitaries are not allowed to operate in this way. To the extent that they do, the human rights of members of these communities are undermined, the schemes are damaged, and the development of a culture of lawfulness is inhibited.
. All paramilitary groups are engaged in illegal activity to varying extents. Dissident republicans remain committed to terrorism and are deeply involved in organised crime. We have no doubt that PIRA, uniquely among paramilitary organisations, has taken the strategic decision to eschew terrorism and pursue a political path. There are a number of signs that the organisation is moving in the way it indicated in its statement of 28 July 2005. But in the light of some of the activities we refer to a real question remains of whether this will involve purely conventional politics conducted within a culture of lawfulness. Loyalist groups, which are violent as well as responsible for a wide range of other crime, have not made the strategic choice which PIRA has made. But there are some early signs of change amongst loyalists which we hope to see taken much further.
. The one paramilitary murder was by members of the UDA of one of the organisation’s senior leaders. Loyalists were responsible for all the other reported shootings and assaults, bar one of the latter which was the responsibility of a dissident republican group. The overall rate of shootings was comparable to that of the previous year; that of assaults was very considerably lower.
6.2 In our Fifth Report in May 2005 we set out what we believed Northern Ireland political parties should achieve. We referred to the importance of them articulating their opposition to all forms of crime, the importance of exerting influence against members of paramilitary groups who would not give up crime, and giving a clear lead in support of the organs of the criminal justice system, including its participative organs. We set out the full text in Annex III. We will continue to be guided by this standard.
6.3 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.
6.4 We recommend:
. In the circumstances described in this report we do not believe that financial measures against Sinn Féin of the kind referred to in our Fourth Report 18 should continue;
. In the light of what we describe in this report we do not think that financial measures against the PUP would be appropriate at this time.
6.5 These recommendations do not mean that we would not recommend the reimposition of financial measures should we feel that future circumstances justified that.