IRA disbands military structure

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Thursday, October 5, 2006

Republican mural, Derry 1986, with evidence of vandalism.

The Independent Monitoring Commission has reported that the Provisional Irish Republican Army has undergone major changes within their military structure and shows that the IRA Army Council wants to put its military campaign behind it. The Commission consists of John Alderdice, a former Alliance Party leader; Joe Brosnan, former Secretary General of the Department of Justice, Republic of Ireland; John Grieve, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and former head of the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terror Branch; and Dick Kerr, former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Agency.

The report states the IRA no longer has the capacity to mount a military campaign anymore or return to one. The units that have been shut down were responsible for weapons-making, arms smuggling and training. The IRA decommissioned their arms last year.

The report also mentions that the IRA has also put its criminality beyond use and is "clamping down" on criminals within the organization, said Lord Alderdice, as he presented the report. He also added, "That doesn't mean that criminal activity by all members has stopped but the leadership has made public statements and internal directions, investigated incidents of breach of the policy, even expelled some members and has emphasised the importance of ensuring that business affairs are conducted in a legitimate way."

Finally, the report added that there is not enough evidence or intelligence to identify who killed Denis Donaldson, a British spy who infiltrated the IRA and Sinn Fein, before revealing his status as a spy.

However, the report added that splinter groups like the Real IRA (RIRA) and Continuity IRA (CIRA) are still threats and are still continuing their activity. The Real IRA was the group behind the deadly 1998 Omagh bombing. The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) "was not capable of undertaking a sustained campaign [against the British State], nor does it aspire to" according to the report.

It is also noted the creation of two new organizations, Oglaigh na hEireann (Irish Gaelic for "Volunteers of Ireland" and is used by the Irish Defence Forces and the various IRAs.) and the Republican Defence Army. However, the groups are small dissident factions according to the report.

The report also added that the two loyalist paramilitaries, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) are also beginning to move from violence but at slower pace and not at a grassroots level like the IRA. Another loyalist paramilitary, the Loyalist Volunteer Force

The report was received warmly by Irish Toaiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Ahern, said "These positive and clear-cut findings are of the utmost importance and significance. It is time to make decisions and for Northern Ireland to look to the future."

"The IRA has done what we asked it to do, and while issues like policing remain to be solved, the door is now open to a final settlement, which is why the talks next week in Scotland are going to be so important." said Tony Blair in a live statement.

In a surprising reaction, the notoriously hardline leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Ian Paisley, also welcomed the report. He believes that his party's pressure is working and if Sinn Fein signs up to policing there could be a deal. Paisley said, "If the police question is settled absolutely on a democratic basis and principle we would have come a long way along the road."

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said "The DUP don't have anything other than very limited options. They will or will not participate in power-sharing arrangements. If they don't participate they are condemning people here, but particularly their own constituents, to second class public services, run by second class fly-in, fly-out British ministers. All the DUP can do is to delay, is to attempt to slow down, but they can't stop the process of changing."

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