Delayed until after the Assembly elections, today, as the BBC reports, the final reports of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) and the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) were published.
As the IMC themselves note, whilst the Commission has completed its remit, the security position In Northern Ireland is far from ideal. As the violence in a part of East Belfast recently revealed, there remain those who have rejected peace and politics and who actively work to undermine it. The Government remains committed to doing all it can to end violence and to enable all the people of Northern Ireland to live peacefully and safely as is their right. I am conscious that Parliament and the public will wish to be kept informed of progress on a regular basis. I therefore intend to make statements to Parliament every six months summarising the threat, in keeping with the timescales on which the IMC used to issue its reports.
The BBC report quotes from the final IMC report
In its final report, the IMC said in the seven years since it was set up there had been 21 paramilitary murders and more than 800 “reported casualties of paramilitary violence”.
“The position as we close is very far from ideal, as we described in our most recent report,” it added.
“Dissident republicans are brutally active, especially against members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) who are at greater threat than they were in 2004 when we first reported.
“One result is that whereas when we started we observed a scene from which terrorism against the organs of the state had largely disappeared, as we close we see classic signs of insurgent terrorism, albeit confined to the narrow dissident front and quite unlike the Troubles in its intensity or, we believe, its potential.
“Members and former members of all paramilitary groups remain very active in non-terrorist types of crime – a bequest from the Troubles which will dog Northern Ireland for years and will require a substantial continuing effort from law enforcement agencies.” [added emphasis]
Many will be expecting an inventory to be included in the report. The IICD did not provide the British and Irish governments with an inventory when they submitted their final report. This was rightly a decision taken independently by the Commission. The Commissioners say in their final report that “providing details now of what paramilitary arms have been put beyond use, could, in our opinion, encourage attacks on those groups which have taken risks for peace. This is true of both Loyalists and Republican paramilitary groups. We would not wish, inadvertently, to discourage future decommissioning events by groups that are actively engaged today, nor to deter groups that have decommissioned their arms from handing over any arms that may subsequently come to light” (paragraph 30). The IICD has made arrangements for the safe retention of the records of decommissioned arms by the United States Department of State in Washington who will hold them securely. [added emphasis]
The earlier linked BBC report adds
That was criticised by First Minister Peter Robinson.
“People will want to see just what has been achieved by the IICD in regard to putting the arsenal of illegal organisations beyond use.
“The public has a right to know what has been achieved and I would urge the secretary of state to ensure the inventory, which should have been passed to our government and the government of the Irish Republic is published,” he said.
“Only a week or so ago we witnessed guns being used on the streets of Northern Ireland.
“People will be naturally nervous that such arms are still in circulation and it is up to the government to justify their decision to abolish the body responsible for dealing with these issues.”
And such arms are still in circulation…
Adds Of course, Peter Robinson is only speaking in a personal capacity as the leader of the DUP – since any statement by OFMDFM requires the agreement of the other party…