16th IMC report published

The 16th Independent Monitoring Commission report has been published. It’s the fourth and final report under Article 5(1), which deals with the British Government’s 2-year security normalisation programme. With that programme well progressed, the focus, given the pending deadline on the decision on funding of the UPRG’s project, will be the paragraphs dealing with the UDA. It’s worth noting the IMC comments on their assessment. Adds Others point to another aspect of the report. And more here

There is one important point about our assessment of the paramilitary threat. We deal in this report with that threat only in so far as it bears directly on the implementation of the security normalisation programme.

And here’s what they have said on loyalist paramilitary groups

We do not believe that the loyalist paramilitaries pose a terrorist-type risk to the security forces or that they plan to mount a terrorist campaign. We therefore conclude that they do not pose a threat which is significantly relevant to security normalisation. The position with the UVF and the UDA is not however the same. In the case of the UVF, since its “statement of intent” of May 2007 the organisation appears to have started to address the question of weapons, although not fulfilling the legal requirements of the decommissioning process. There also seems to have been a significant decrease in crime and in other paramilitary activity, and a reduction in membership. This seems to be part of a coherent strategy although the picture is by no means unblemished. The UDA has not matched this progress and we believe that a lack of internal organisational coherence will continue to inhibit progress. At the time of writing this report there seems to have been no progress on decommissioning. There has however been less criminal activity by members and the organisation has publicly discouraged them from engaging in crime, instead directing them towards community work. Much of the potential for trouble arises from tensions within the organisation’s own ranks; for example, internal rivalry led to a serious and disturbing incident at Carrickfergus on 21 July 2007 at which a PSNI officer was shot in the back.

The IMC Report also states, on their assessment

3.4 There is one important point about our assessment of the paramilitary threat. We deal in this report 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 special measures are designed to combat and is a matter for the PSNI, AGS and other law enforcement agencies North and South. Accordingly, the threat 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 give a broader assessment of paramilitary activity in our next Article 4 report, which we are due to deliver to the two Governments in October 2007.