IMC FIASCO FEARED
26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will meet British Prime Minister
Tony Blair in Dublin on Thursday as problems mount ahead of
discussions on the possible implementation of the 1998 Good
Their meeting will take place the day before the two governments
expect to consider an official report on the level of IRA
activity since the Provisional IRA unilaterally disarmed last
The "Independent Monitoring Commission" collates information
British Crown sources on the actions of the IRA, with a view to
the imposition of "sanctions" against Sinn Fein. Criticism of
IRA in the IMC report could provide key political cover for
unionists as they seek to back away from sharing power with Sinn
The Dublin government is expected to publicly emphasise the
positive aspects of the report and to dispute allegations of IRA
The Provisional IRA called an end to its armed struggle and
announced an end to related activities in a historic statement
last July. However, there have been claims by senior PSNI
policemen that the organisation is still engaged in "illegal
Last week, the PSNI and the two governments engaged in public
squabbling over the matter.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kincaid last week told the
Policing Board that the IRA was still active, essentially
contradicting a statement by British minister Shaun Woodward.
Bertie Ahern, speaking in India, rejected Kincaid's analysis,
alleging that PSNI Chief Hugh Orde, 'the most senior police
officer', had given him a different view.
At the weekend, PSNI Chief Hugh Orde flatly contradicted Ahern
and backed his assistant.
"He [Kincaid] has given an assessment in a confidential briefing
and we are awaiting the IMC report," said Orde. "We have given
our evidence to the IMC. When the report is published people will
be able to form their own assessment."
The chief constable was speaking at Ulster Unionist Party
headquarters in east Belfast, where he was addressing a meeting
of young unionists.
Despite mounting political uncertainty, Ahern and Blair are still
hoping to work towards major inter-party negotiations at a series
of meetings, the first of which is planned for February 6th.
"They will review the current position in the peace process, and
will focus on the remaining issues that need to be addressed to
bring about the full restoration of the democratic institutions
of the Good Friday agreement," said a statement out of Dublin.
"In that context, they are also expected to emphasise the need
for all of the parties to engage intensively in the coming
months, beginning with the talks scheduled by the two governments
for early February."
However, some twelve years after the IRA declared a ceasefire,
Ian Paisley's DUP is still refusing to hold direct talks with
Sinn Fein. Republicans have grown sceptical of the willingness of
unionists to respond to IRA initiatives. In addition, Sinn Fein
has been strongly dismissive of propogandised reports of IRA
activity, which are based on briefings by the hostile PSNI.
Sinn Fein has called for an end to the deadlock in Northern
Ireland politics and said it was time the DUP joined the party in
a local devolved power-sharing administration.
Party president Gerry Adams described the current impasse as
"farcical" and warned that the political institutions and the
Good Friday Agreement faced a decisive year.
He said the IRA's decision to end its armed struggle had created
the conditions to move the peace process forward and end British
Direct Rule in the country.
Mr Adams said: "Sinn Fein is ready for progress and ready for the
challenge of serving in Government with the DUP.
"We have told the Governments that republican initiatives have
created new conditions for progress and that the onus is now on
them to advance the process and re-establish the political
Speaking before a special meeting of the party's leadership in
Dublin, Mr Aams said it was unacceptable that the current Belfast
assembly, which was elected in November 2003, had never met.
Mr Adams added: "The stalemate cannot continue.
"There needs to be a genuine effort to end it in the months
"2006 will be a make-or-break year for the institutions and the
Good Friday Agreement."
Mr Adams identified talks next month as an opportunity to build a
platform for progress.
He said: "It is time to end the obscenity of British Direct Rule.
"All other issues aside, the cost of British Ministers running
the north is too high in terms of jobs lost, increasing poverty,
rising energy costs, incompetence and inefficiency.
"Consequently, the Irish government needs to ensure that the
talks in February are about the speedy restoration of the
political institutions and the implementation of the outstanding
aspects of the Good Friday Agreement."
Outlining the way ahead, the Sinn Fein President called for:
* An end to the illegal suspension of the institutions imposed
by the British government in October 2002.
* The triggering of the d'Hondt mechanism for electing the
* Agreement by the DUP to take up their seats in an Executive
along with other mandated parties
* Substantive progress on outstanding aspects of the Agreement
including demilitarisation, equality and human rights issues
* The conclusion of the debate on policing
* Northern representation to be brought forward in the Dublin
* Delivery of a peace dividend for the north and border
Mr Adams acknowledged the challenges ahead and made reference to
the exposure last month of Denis Donaldson, one of his senior
aides, as a British agent.
Mr Adams said: "It is obvious that some of the difficulties we
have witnessed in recent weeks are the desperate efforts of those
who have spent the last fifteen years trying to derail the
But he added: "Sinn Fein is going into the February discussions
determined to make progress and determined that the next few
months should see the delivery of the huge expectations of the
people of this island.
"They expect political leaders to deliver.
"It's time we did."