IMC A 'PUPPET SHOW'
The Independent Monitoring Commission's threat to expose Sinn
Fein members as IRA leaders has "polluted" the peace process,
Sinn Fein said today, who accused the IMC of acting as a proxy
of British government securocrats.
In an angry attack on the commission, whose first report
yesterday called for financial penalties against Sinn Fein on the
basis of police briefings that the IRA remained active, party
chairman Mitchel McLaughlin warned it had the potential to "put
another nail in the coffin" of the process.
Although the IMC report accepted that Sinn Fein did not control
the IRA, it declared that some leading members of Sinn Fein are
also leading members of the IRA. It called for the political
subvention paid to Sinn Fein on the basis of its participation in
the Belfast Assembly to be cut.
The IMC declared that all the North's main paramilitary
organisations were engaged in punishment attacks and criminal
activities. It said a republican group, which it hinted was the
Provisional IRA, carried out the abduction and murder of missing
Armagth man Gareth O'Connoor, It also blamed the breakway 'Real
IRA' for killing Belfast man Danny McGurk.
On the unionist side, it blamed the UDA for six murders since
January 2003 and accused other unionist paramilitaries of killing
another three, including Michael O'Hare, who they claim was
killed by loyalists in a house fire in March 2003.
It also said one IRA man, Keith Rogers, was shot dead in South
Armagh, but does not specify which paramilitary group was
responsible. At the time, March 2003, the IRA blamed a criminal
gang for killing Rogers.
If the IRA remained active, the IMC warned that the salaries of
Sinn Fein Assembly members could be cut, that the party could be
excluded from the Executive, and the senior members could be
'named and shamed' as IRA chiefs.
Mr McLaughlin said: "Engagements between parties are needed but
reports like this pollute the atmosphere of this process.
"Let us just look at this commission. It was set up at the behest
of David Trimble to give spurious credibility to the same daggers
which members of the police Special Branch have been pointing in
our direction for some time.
"All the British and Irish governments have done by establishing
the IMC is to find another microphone, another voice box for the
securocrats, but there is no new evidence.
"This process has been about getting everyone involved, including
ex-combatants, in finding political solutions instead of military
"Sinn Fein devised the strategy and has invested a lot but it now
seems others have abandoned it in favour of a strategy aimed at
stopping our electoral growth.
"This report will not affect the republican base but it has the
potential to put another nail in the coffin for this process."
In their only political initiative in recent years, the IMC was
set up last year by the British and Irish governments to check if
all sides were honouring their commitments under the Good Friday
However, it was clear from its inception that the body was
designed to implement 'sanctions' against Sinn Fein for political
purposes. Its report is based on briefings from the PSNI police
and British military intelligence.
Its members are former Belfast Assembly Speaker Lord Alderdice,
ex-London anti-terror police chief John Grieve, retired Irish
civil servant Joe Brosnan and Richard Kerr, formerly deputy
director of the United States CIA.
The body's first dossier was brought forward following an
incident in which the Provisional IRA was accused of beating up
and trying to abduct dissident republican Bobby Tohill from a
Belfast city centre bar in February.
Its recommendation that thousands of pounds should be withheld
from Sinn Fein and the Progressive Unionist Party, which has
links with the unionist paramilitary UVF, was adopted yesterday
by British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy.
Lord Alderdice said he was ready to 'out' Sinn Fein politicians
he was told were also IRA leaders.
The commission member said: "Those that we believe are likely to
be in positions of senior leadership in various paramilitary
groups should expect to receive direct communications from us so
that they have an opportunity to respond to the views we are
Mr McLaughlin accused Lord Alderice, a former leader of the cross
community Alliance Party, of being "a pet poodle" for the British
government's Northern Ireland Office throughout his career.
The Foyle Assembly member said: "At the end of the day, it is
difficult if republicans across the board are trying to make this
process work and others are trying to slow this up."
Hardline unionist Ian Paisley, of the DUP claimed that fining the
parties cited in the report amounted to little more than a
"murder tax". The Ulster Unionist leader, Mr David Trimble,
the British government to reconsider its prisoner release scheme.
The SDLP's Seamus Mallon voiced support for the IMC and their
report, but demanded higher fines be imposed on Sinn Fein.
Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy later accued Mr Mallon of 'supporting
the British government in discriminating against the majority of
nationalists in the six counties who now vote for Sinn Fein'.
As Murphy and Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen met in London
today for the first time since the release of the IMC report, all
sides criticised the decision to cancel multi-party talks next
Mr Murphy insisted progress could be made despite the tense
He said yesterday's report simply revealed issues that people
were already well aware of.
"It doesn't mean to say that we stop progress," he said.
"It tells us that there are obstacles to be overcome, which are
difficult ones. But I think there is a will there amongst all the
political parties and the two governments to make progress.
"It is not going to be easy, we never thought it was going to be
easy. But nevertheless we intend to carry on. We are not standing
Mr Cowen said: "We all know where everything is at. We have to
get into a dialogue, get into a political discourse, which will
address these issues.
"We are all committed to making this process work. There is a
problem with one side of the community about whether paramilitary
activity can be brought to an end and whether we can see
partnership government put in place to everyone`s satisfaction."