We recognise nevertheless, that circumstances could change quickly

As expected while the IMC’s 11th report focuses primarily on the security normalisation process, the section on the threat assessment will probably attract most interest.. Updated belowSo here are those paragraphs, which begin with an important caveat..

3.4 We must emphasise an important point about our assessment of the paramilitary threat. We deal with that threat only in so far as it bears directly on the implementation of the security normalisation programme. In broad terms, this means the actions of paramilitaries which require special security measures, for example military intervention or counter-terrorist legislation. It does not mean those activities of paramilitaries for which such measures are not necessary, even if those activities are serious. We
believe that organised crime involving paramilitaries falls into this category.

Such crime is different from terrorism or insurgency of the kind these measures are designed to combat and is a matter for the PSNI, AGS and other law enforcement agencies North and South. Accordingly, the assessment we make in the following paragraphs is necessarily narrower than it is in the reports we make on paramilitary activity as a whole under Article 4 of our remit. We will be making a broader assessment in our next Article 4 report, which we will deliver to the two Governments in October 2006.

And the assessments of the various groups..

3.5 With this in mind, the following are the key points about the paramilitary threat which seem to us to apply to security normalisation at the present time:

– We remain of the firm view that PIRA is committed to following a political path. It is not engaged in terrorist activity, by which we
mean undertaking attacks, planning or reconnoitring them, or developing a terrorist capability by, for example, procuring weapons or training members. The leadership is opposed to the use of violence in community control, has taken a stance against criminality and disorder amongst the membership, and has been engaged in successful dialogue to prevent violence during the 2006 parades season. Senior members are taking on roles in Sinn Féin and are encouraging other members to do the same or to engage in community work. The fact that PIRA retains a command and control structure does not in our view detract from this. Indeed, this structure is an important element in maintaining the organisation on its chosen path.[added emphasis]

– Dissident republicans do pose a continuing threat to the security forces and constitute the most significant security threat in
Northern Ireland. They have continued to engage in paramilitary activity and recent events have shown their wish to maintain their capability to do so. It remains the case however that they have been hampered in what they do both by their limited expertise and capacity and by the continuing efforts of law enforcement agencies North and South.

We do not think that at present loyalist paramilitaries are an active threat to the security forces although they remain involved in violence. In contrast to 2005, leaders contributed to a quiet parades season and some amongst them appear committed to ending criminality amongst their members. This latter has been more evident in the case of the UDA and may reflect a positive strategic decision. The UVF refusal to clarify its position in advance of 24 November 2006 remains a worry, not least in view of their refusal to decommission arms or in other ways to reduce their capability to revert to terrorism. All these groups remain strongly entrenched in certain local communities.[added emphasis]

There’s an interesting argument being deployed in the case of the PIRA leadership..

“The fact that PIRA retains a command and control structure does not in our view detract from this. Indeed, this structure is an important element in maintaining the organisation on its chosen path.”

It’s an argument that, at first, may be seen to be advancing The Process.. but any activity under such a command and control structure could still undermine progress, not least given the caveats of the previous IMC report

The IMC do, however, end the threat asessment on a cautious note..

3.6 From this we draw the following general conclusions about the paramilitary threat in relation to security normalisation:

– There is at present a certain level of threat to the lives and safety of members of the security forces from dissident republicans. This
threat could materialise in any part of Northern Ireland but is more likely to do so in certain specific areas.

– Following its statements and decommissioning, and given the strategy directed by the leadership, we do not think that PIRA presents a threat to the security forces or impediment to security normalisation.

– Loyalist paramilitary groups do not at present constitute an active terrorist-type threat to the security forces.

– The largely peaceful parades season this year has been in marked contrast to the violence in the summer and autumn of 2005. This is directly relevant to the question of army support to the police for the purpose of maintaining public order.

– We recognise nevertheless, as we did in our report 6 months ago, that circumstances could change quickly.

Updated Added emphasis to the Loyalist threat assessment.. and a commnet from Secxretary of State Peter Hain in this report, “”Clearly everyone in Northern Ireland is awaiting the IMC`s next report on paramilitary activity but, even without that report, it is clear that a dramatic shift has occurred in the threat posed by paramilitaries in Northern Ireland.”