As Mick has noted, Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, has been accentuating the positive following the publication today of the IMC report, and the BBC has a round-up of some of the other reactions.. other reactions here.. notable by his absence however, is the NIO Security Minister, and Chair of the Organised Crime Task Force, Shaun Woodward.An interesting, if subtle, difference in emphasis in the comments noted from Secretary of State Peter Hain, Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern..
Peter Hain –
It shows that the IRA is moving in the right direction and is closing down – no murders, no recruitment and no bank robberies.
There is enough progress in this report to make the process of talking meaningful – not an executive up and running tomorrow, but the beginning of a process of genuine and purposeful engagement.
For the good of the people of Northern Ireland we need to strive to get to where we want to go and not get mired in where we’ve been.
Tony Blair –
A fair summary of what the IMC has said is that they draw attention to their belief that there has indeed been a strategic decision by the leadership of the IRA to give up the armed struggle.
What they have also said, however, is that they are concerned about violence and criminality.
Let me make it clear once again, all criminal activity has to cease. That is absolutely crucial.
But it would be quite wrong if the right honourable gentleman (Rev Ian Paisley) was suggesting that there had not been very significant progress or that the statement that the IRA gave last July was not highly significant
Dermot Ahern –
Firstly, it raises the challenges to the IRA leadership in relation to the outstanding issue that all forms of criminality must cease in order to allow partnership politics to take place in Northern Ireland.
Secondly, the IMC report challenges the loyalist paramilitary groups to follow the path set by the IRA in their significant moves last year.
But thirdly it challenges not only both the governments but also the political parties to reassert the primacy of politics and to engage with others.