it is not entirely clear to us..

The Guardian leader today summed up the 12th IMC report better than most “Yesterday’s ground-breaking report could not have been more helpful.” Indeed, given what the BBC’s Mark Devenport describes as the “puffing” the report received – before being published – it is, as I suggested yesterday, worthwhile looking at some of the report more closely… in particular those grey areasFor all the good news it contains, and no-one would deny that in three years there have been changes in almost every one of the paramilitary and criminal groups – to a greater or lesser degree – there are a number of glaring gaps in the knowledge accrued by the IMC since its previous reports.

There’s the ‘command and control structures” of the PIRA which the IMC previously declared is “an important element in maintaining the organisation on its chosen path.”

– 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.

That’s from September.. and it’s the same assessment as that contained in the 12th report yesterday which formed the basis of Tony Blair’s, and Peter Hain’s, apparently new, breathless endorsement – “IRA’s campaign is over”

The IMC’s assessment of the need for a ‘command and control structure’ was criticised at the time, including here on Slugger. This time however, the IMC avoided using the phrase “command and control structure”, despite the fact that it is only a month since their previous report, preferring instead to talk about

such structures as remain are largely concerned with preserving the cohesion of the organisation and serving the wider purpose of the republican movement as a whole in a period of major change of strategy and direction.

ANyway, as I said, the interesting areas are those where the IMC’s knowledge fails them.

Firstly on the issue of the murder of Denis Donaldson.. the IMC will not be drawn into even a suggestion of who might have been responsible.. not even the likeliest culprits

3.7 In our previous report we mentioned the murder of Denis Donaldson in County Donegal on 4 April 2006. We said we were not able to attribute responsibility for the murder and would continue to monitor the situation. There has been no change in this situation to

Nor an indication that anything might have turned up at all through their monitoring.

Perhaps more importantly, the previously highlighted issue of “discreetly laundered assets”.

For a report that clears the organisation of criminal activity, or rather the leadership of that organisation of endorsing any such activity, the IMC is, perhaps, remarkably uninterested in this area

How the organisation itself is handling the question of previously illegally obtained funds is not entirely clear to us.

Given that would be of direct concern in any assessment on a commitment to law and order, a phrase Sinn Féin statement writers have recently added to their lexicon, and a topic that will likely dominate the forthcoming discussions it seems a little lax, to say the least.

Indeed, the entire debate has long since moved on from any terrorist threat, it’s criminality and the ‘good leadership, bad members’ line, from this and previous reports, that concern has been centred on for some time. And it’s a concern that, while accepting the broad thrust of the IMC report on terrorist activity, has been voiced today by the PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde at the Policing Board

“I have no evidence to suggest they (Provisional IRA) have any intention of going back to an armed struggle in any way shape or form in terms of activities,” he said.

“The grey area, as ever, will be activities undertaken by people who are members of the Provisional IRA which we would class as criminal.

“And the question as always is, was that for the organisation or was that for the individual? But in broad terms I accept what the IMC was saying.”

The naturally sceptical would point out that a commitment to policing would require certain actions to be taken, through the criminal justice system, of any individuals found to be involved in the exploitation of any discreetly laundered assets.. or even not so discreet..

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  • joeCanuck


    Don’t you think it’s a tad unrealistic for the IRA (or UDA or UVF) to say “OK we admit we carried out such and such a bank (Post Office) robbery in 19** or 200* and here’s the money back”. If such a declaration is needed for a final settlement, we’re all going to be in our graves and our great great grandchildren to the end of time.

  • Nationalist

    Yes, it would seem to be unclear and hard to say who some carries out a crime for, the organisation or themselves? I guess it’s a bit like asking the question who did the DUP boy’s do the crimes for – the DUP or themselves? Who was going to gain from the vote stealing, was it only the person doing the vote stealing or was it the DUP?

    No doubt the DUP will tell us of the individuals “Repentance” and that they as an organisation did not sanction the crimes of those individuals and therefore not responsible, unlike the PIRA who do not sanction such acts but are still responsible?

  • Yokel

    The key question is will the ex-paramilitaries become untouchable when they do go out and cause crime.

    If the cops can get on with their job and the authorities prosecute such people as necessary, if they’ve committed a crime, without such people being given political cover, then we are alright.

    No one seems to have answered this question definitively, not least the two governments.

    Thats the fear of the average non paramilitary supporting Joes in this country who make up the vast majority of its population.

    I’d rather go back to 30 years of shite than have that because its the least worst option.

  • Yokel

    If the best dig you can call up is DUP vote rigging, their supporters must be putting their feet up, having a cigar and feeling pretty content.

  • Pete Baker


    Did I suggest such a declaration was likely to be forthcoming?

    No, the issue is what will the reaction be when, or indeed if (given other organisations’ demands noted here on Slugger), the illegally obtained assets held by those organisations are investigated… especially in a situation where a member of a connected party is part of a Justice Ministry.

  • joeCanuck


    I personally don’t believe that the police (in any country) are as independent as the politicos would have us believe. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that if a political deal is done, any investigation into previous wrongdoing will wither on the vine. But maybe I’m just a cynic.

  • Shay Begorrah

    Requirements before Republicans allowed to represent other Republicans in government.

    (1) All monies stolen in all bank robberies in Ireland between 1972 and 2006 returned with interest.

    (2) A hand written apology from every former member of the IRA for all the trouble they have caused.

    (3) A union flag to be tatooed on every former Republican prisoner.

    (4) Billy Wright to be brought back from the dead to sit at Ian Paisleys right hand side.

    (5) All northern nationalists to take appropriate medication for the rest of their lives to make them compliant Uncle Tom figures who feel the need to justify themselves to whining partitionists who never accepted that there might be some quid pro quo for ending the troubles.

    (6) A sick bag.

  • DK

    Would it not be simpler to introduce an amnesty for republican crimes committed before they join policing? That way it can be easily identified what was a “republican” crime as all SF need do is to declare such crimes when they are being investigated & the investigation will be fast-tracked to completion and closed with no prosections.

    A bit like the prisoner release & immunity from prosectution that was part of the GFA.

  • Pete Baker


    Your opinion is noted, but some of us will continue to highlight those grey areas… and their potential implications.

  • Nevin

    It seems that the term ‘culture of lawfulness’ in reports 6, 8 and 10 has been quietly buried. The IMC has instead taken to praising the paramilitaries for ‘policing’ parades. Perhaps the term/principle was considered a obstacle to the ‘peace process’ in that the governments may wish to incorporate a ‘culture of lawlessness’ in the official justice and policing systems. I suspect there will be further concessions on community restorative justice and police community safety officers prior to November 27.