“the reports will be published after the Assembly elections…”

As the BBC reports, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, has announced the dissolution of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) and the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD).

The IICD archive is to be held at Boston College, as Kevin Cullen reports

Thomas E. Hachey, executive director of the Center for Irish Programs at Boston College and a professor of history, said getting the archive was a coup for BC.

“This is an incredibly valuable collection for future studies on the era of The Troubles,’’ he said. “BC was such a natural fit, and it was a logical alternative to Dublin and Belfast.’’

Just when historians will gain access to the archive is unclear.

“Under Irish and British law the archive could be inaccessible for a period of 30 years,’’ Hachey said. “But there will be periodic review that may grant notably earlier access if approved by the appropriate Anglo-Irish authorities.’’

Both bodies have provided the UK and Irish Governments with reports on each Commission’s experience and lessons learned.

But, as Owen Paterson’s statement notes

Due to the pre-election period, the reports will be published after the Assembly elections in May on a date to be agreed by both Governments.

Hmmm…  As Brian Rowan noted in an earlier Belfast Telegraph article

…there was more to the work of the IMC than just reporting on specific incidents and attributing them to the different republican and loyalist groups. At times, they also explained the reality of a transition out of conflict and towards peace.

Why it was not possible for organisations to simply dismantle and disappear, why they needed a leadership – in the IRA’s case, an army council – to manage a change process. There was no magic wand that was going to make those groups disappear; process equals time.

This explanation of the complexities of a transition was also part of the commission’s work. In the days ahead, when it presents its report – its valedictory – it will create something of a dilemma for the British and Irish governments.

Another of the peace commissions – the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) – has not yet left the stage, even though the IRA, INLA and the main loyalist groups have gone as far as they are going with decommissioning.

The last report by the IICD is meant to contain an inventory – the sums and numbers of decommissioning.

But that adding-up may not match the figures in the security and intelligence assessments of the different paramilitary arsenals and that will bring some questions.

So, as soon as the governments have that last report from the IMC, there will be an expectation that an IICD document should also be published. One is more difficult than the other – the one that will leave lingering doubts.