Mick previously mentioned the long war against criminality narrative in the IMC report, and a main area of focus of the report is what has previously been clarified, by NIO Security Minister Shaun Woodward, as the complex assessments of distinguishing between criminality by individual members for their own gain and criminality carried out by members which is authorised by the organisation. With those assessments in mind, the section relating to the current activity, of PIRA, is worth looking at more closely.From the IMC report
2.13 It remains our absolutely clear view that the PIRA leadership has committed itself to following a peaceful path. It is working to bring the whole organisation fully along with it and has expended considerable effort to refocus the movement in support of its objective. In the last three months this process has involved the further dismantling of PIRA as a military structure. We have noted the remarks by Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, at the party Ard Fheis in February clearly stating that for republicans the war is over and that the movement is committed to the alternative political path. We also welcome his separate comments in which he supported the pursuit of criminal assets and said that anybody involved in criminality should face the full rigours of the law. His public remarks at the Ard Fheis are consistent with the position the PIRA leadership set out in its Easter 2006 statement. This clear strategic will is of fundamental importance and underpins everything else that we say about PIRA below.[added emphasis]
2.14 We recognise, as we did when we reported three months ago, that the leadership is engaged in a challenging task in ensuring full compliance with this strategy. The response of members will naturally enough be influenced by the surrounding political circumstances as well as by long-held personal views. It is to be expected that there may be instances where members or associates do not always follow the leadership’s line. This might be the case in particular instances even if those individuals accept the broad direction, and some are bound to find that direction difficult to accept. The surprising thing would be if there were no such lapses or disagreements, not that they occur. In making our assessment we have been careful, as we would equally be in respect of any other paramilitary group which was making a transition, to assess the situation in the way we outline in paragraphs 1.5-1.7 above.
The separate comments that the IMC refer to should be noted. They were made in response to the raids on Thomas Murphy’s property, when Murphy was also described as “not a criminal. He’s a good republican”, and which was followed by the seizure of around €1million in cash and cheques.
The report goes on to make an assessment on the individual involvement and the organisational involvement and the long war Mick mentioned –
2.16 We have found signs that PIRA continues to seek to stop criminal activity by its members and to prevent them from engaging in it. We believe that some senior PIRA members may be playing a key role in this. This seems to us to be in accordance with
the publicly articulated strategy. We believe that volunteers who had previously engaged in illegal fundraising have been told to refrain from doing so. That said, there are indications that some members, including some senior ones, (as distinct from the organisation itself) are still involved in crime, including offences such as fuel laundering, money laundering, extortion, tax evasion and smuggling. Some of these activities are deeply embedded in the culture of a number of communities, not least in the border areas, and increasing proportions of the proceeds may now be going to individuals rather than to the organisation. We have no reason to amend our earlier view that money is a strategic asset and that the organisation will look to the long-term exploitation of discreetly laundered assets which were previously gained illegally.[emphasis added]
The report briefly mentions policing –
2.19 We think it would be useful to refer briefly to the question of support for policing because it is illustrative of a transition within the organisation and of the authority required to bring about change. We believe that the leadership has accepted the need to engage in policing if it is to achieve its aim of devolution of policing and justice to an Assembly and Executive in Northern Ireland. It has not however yet determined how this might be delivered. The issue is still very controversial on the ground and has not been resolved to date within PIRA despite robust discussion. It remains to be seen how progress might be made on these two linked issues.
And, despite the robbery occuring outside of the period the report is dealing with (December-February), also talks about the hijacking in Meath on March 10th –
2.20 The hijacking in County Meath on 10 March 2006 of a lorry containing a consignment of spirits occurred after the end of the period covered by this report. Three men have been arrested and are facing charges in connection with the incident. Two of them are known to have been members of PIRA, one of whom was released from prison in the South under the terms of the Belfast Agreement. Participation in criminal activity of this kind is contrary to the position taken in the PIRA statement of July 2005 and since reiterated to the members, as we indicate in paragraph 2.16 above. The robbery has also been condemned unreservedly by Sinn Fein, most notably by Martin McGuiness who said that “anyone involved in activity of this nature, no matter what political party they support, needs to be arrested, charged and brought to court before a jury of their peers.” At this stage the indications are that the robbery was carried out for personal gain, which suggests that the republican movement is having some difficulties in ensuring that all members live up to the commitments in the July 2005 statement.
That reference is, most likely, more about Martin McGuinness repeating the line on criminality they noted earlier than anything else and, indeed, the final conclusion suggests this too –
2.21 Overall therefore, our assessment is positive. We emphasise what we said before about the commitment of the PIRA leadership to following the direction set out in the July 2005 statement. Furthermore, we believe there have been definite further developments to that end since we reported three months ago. Although differences of view within the organisation still remain, the leadership continues to work to secure full compliance.
With the caveat contained in the post title.