Sinn Fein mount legal challenge against IMC sanctions
Sinn Fein is to take to the courts to contest fines imposed by
the British government over alleged continued activity by the
Sinn Fein confirmed the move and also condemned the Independent
Monitoring Commission whose report last month prompted the
Last month the Independent Monitoring Commission claimed it had
evidence that the IRA remained active and were involved in a
variety of illegal activities. Its conclusions were derived from
briefings by the PSNI police and British military intelligence.
IMC members threatened to 'name and shame' senior members of the
party who they allege have leadership roles within the IRA.
The actions of the body, set up by the two governments outside
the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, humiliated Sinn
Fein and brought the peace process to its lowest point since the
IRA ceasefire collapsed in 1996.
The 120,000 pound fine on Sinn Fein, the withdrawal of the
annual subvention received from the British government for its
participation in the Belfast Assembly at Stormont, was minor but
seemed designed to embarrass the party in front of the broader
nationalist community as elections approached.
Sinn Fein say their legal advisers found the decision to fine
them for alleged ceasefire breaches by the IRA went against the
European Convention on Human RIghts.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams was joined by party colleagues
Bairbre de Brun and Conor Murphy this morning as he revealed
details of the legal challenge.
"British government sanctions discriminate against our
electorate," said Mr Adams.
"The role of the IMC was to facilitate the exclusion of Sinn
Fein, to soft pedal on unionist violence and to ignore totally
the behaviour of the British government, the party most in
breach of the Agreement.
"The IMC is not independent. That much is obvious from its remit
"The recent report from the IMC, which the British government is
using as the basis to discriminate against Sinn Fein, is a proxy
report by the securocrats, PSNI and British Army. The
recommendations are clearly discriminatory and subvert the
democratic and electoral rights and mandate of Sinn Fein and our
"Moreover the IMC report itself acknowledges that Sinn Fein 'is
not in a position actually to determine what policies or
operational strategies PIRA will adopt.' Having admitted this
and accepted that Sinn Fein has used its influence it then
proceeds to recommend sanctions against us.
"We take this case not in the expectation of a British court
finding against a British government in favour of Sinn Fein but
we are duty bound to defend the rights and entitlements of our
electorate and also to exhaust all domestic remedies in so
NEW LEADERSHIP AWAITED
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin has urged the British
and Irish governments to initiate a programme to deliver on
aspects of the Good Friday Agreement that do not depend on the
participation of unionists.
"While Sinn Fein would share the aim of achieving the maximum
support of unionist parties, we are a long way from being
convinced that the DUP is serious about coming to an
accommodation that would permit the re-establishment of the
political institutions," Mr McLaughlinn said yesterday.
"It is evident that the nationalist and republican constituency
have a confidence in our politics and our assessment that the
agreement, fully and faithfully implemented, can provide the
mechanism by which we can achieve our political aspirations.
"However, the unionist political leaderships' confidence in
their ability to maintain and strengthen the status quo of
partition is diminishing."
Mr McLaughlin said that unionism in general had not yet come to
terms with the inevitable constitutional implications of change,
nor had it brought forward a political leadership.
He said it may be necessary "to be patient a little longer"
until such a leadership emerges within unionism.
"The old catch cry of 'what we have we hold' is the political
mantra of the current leadership of unionism, as it was for the
unionist party in the past," he said.