The British government has ended financial sanctions against
Sinn Fein following the publication of a British intelligence
report on IRA and unionist paramilitary activity.
Sinn Fein representatives in the Belfast Assembly and London
parliament had their allocated funding withdrawn after a
previous report by the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC).
Sinn Fein has long railed against the increasingly severe
sanctions imposed on the party, viewing the sanctions as
However, the IMC said it accepted that the Provisional IRA is
winding down following its unilateral peace initiative this
summer. On July 28th, the IRA formally ordered an end to its
armed campaign and all IRA units were ordered to dump their
weapons and follow "purely political and democratic programmes".
On September 26th, it was confirmed that the IRA had disposed of
all of its arms.
Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey said: "Sanctions against Sinn Fein are
undemocratic and motivated by a desire to prevent the further
development of the party and prevent further electoral advances.
They are unacceptable and should be removed.
"Sinn Fein will continue to oppose the role being played by the
IMC and the political cover it seeks to give to the British
government to discriminate against Irish political parties and
In today's report, the IMC said there was no evidence of
training or recruitment after the 28 July statement, and there
were indications that IRA intelligence remained active but that
its focus "may be becoming more political".
It said the IRA had wanted the Protestant marching season to
pass without civil disorder and that it had tried to stop
rioting by nationalists.
Despite the IMC's acceptance that the IRA has stuck to the terms
of its historic declaration, 26-COunty Minister for Foreign
Affairs Dermot Ahern and British Direct Ruler Peter Hain said
"more time" was needed to "build confidence".
They agreed that the IRA declaration had been a "sea change"
that unionist resistance was understandable and more was needed.
Peter Hain said another report by the IMC in January would be
"an absolutely critical benchmark of where we are".
"There is movement in the right direction. There is more to be
done, nevertheless there are positive signs of progress," Mr
UVF GET OFF
The British government has been accused of employing
"breathtaking double standards" after it emerged that the
UVF-aligned Progressive Unionist Party is still receiving
Both Sinn Fein and the PUP lost funding last year after the
Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) said that activity by
the IRA and UVF was still ongoing.
In April Sinn Fein's fine was renewed but the PUP's grant of
#27,000 for its one assembly member, David Ervine, was restored.
A month later the IMC said that the loyalist party should have
its funding blocked again but the government decided to consult
on the matter.
It has emerged that PUP funding has continued since then,
despite the monitoring commission reporting last month that the
UVF had been linked to five murders and 15 attempted murders.
Sinn Fein councillor Alex Maskey said the revelation confirmed
its view that the IMC was a tool to be employed primarily
against Sinn Fein.
"The demonstration of double standards exposes the bad faith of
the British government and an inherent pro-loyalist bias within
the British system," he said.
This week, the IMC noted unionist paramilitaries were
responsible for all five murders and most of the other
conflict-related violence in the North over the relevant
The SDLP has blasted the 26-County Prime Minister over his views
on the UVF. Bertie Ahern said last weekend that loyalists need
"space and encouragement" to come to a decision to end violence.
But the SDLP's justice spokesperson, Alban Maginness, says
unionist paramilitaries have had plenty of time to consider this
and in reality they want the Irish and British governments to
turn a blind eye to their activities.
Mr Maginness said UVF members must be given an ultimatum of
politics or jail.
* A petrol-bomb attack on a house in County Antrim on Tuesday
described as "nothing more than anti-Catholic".
A 54-year-old woman was sitting in the living room of the house
at Cushendall Road in Ballymena when the device was thrown
through the window at around 1.20am.
Another petrol-bomb attack also took place early on Tuesday on a
house in the Deramore area of Ballymena.
* Hardline unionists plan to put 30,000 people on the streets of
Belfast on Saturday week, it has been confirmed. Organisers have
applied for permission to mount one of the biggest rallies in
the city since the Anti-Anglo Irish Agreement protest of 1985.
The route, which has been submitted to the Parades Commission,
takes marchers through the Shankill Road through Woodvale Road
and Woodvale Park, which is near an interface with the
republican Ardoyne area.
* The Real IRA is believed to have left two devices near the RUC
police club at Newforge Lane, off the Malone Road, earlier this
week. Both were described as "viable" and were defused by British