Brian Feeney questions the decision to delegate what he argues should be a political decision on whether to act upon intelligence to the IMC, though as several speakers in the Commons debate yesterday pointed out, the IMC’s recommendations are being treated as purely consultative rather than executive.
Now the absurd aspect of this performance is that the NIO has access to all this stuff itself but normally in a democracy it would be a political decision whether to act on the intelligence or not. Incredibly the British administration handed that political responsibility to the IMC and thereby gave them a veto over political progress.
Nowhere else in the world does such nonsense operate. Even the IMC has to admit that. It was with some considerable disbelief that the Irish government watched this happening in 2004. You’ll notice that although the IMC has an office in the Republic you don’t hear them doing much huffing and puffing about paramilitary activity there.
Michael McDowell does that very well himself thank you by selecting his own intelligence reports to hand to favourite journalists. The Irish government retains political control. It is true and it must be acknowledged that, while the IMC handed the DUP a shiny bauble last week, there was and is no intention on the part of the DUP to cooperate in establishing functioning institutions under the Good Friday Agreement. That will remain the case until they cut a deal with Sinn Féin next year. Even if the IMC report had been entirely favourable to the IRA the DUP would still have professed itself unmoved.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty