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Significant IRA statement still leaves questions: Alliance

July 28, 2005 12:00 AM

Alliance Party Leader, David Ford, has given a cautious welcome to the latest IRA statement, and urged that the Governments reflect on the true implications of the new commitments rather than rushing to embrace them. The Alliance Party Executive will be meeting this evening to the review the contents of the statement.

David Ford said:

"While this statement is clearly a significant move in the right direction, it is important to look behind the hype, and analyse its true meaning.

"The IRA has now clearly renounced its illegal and illegitimate armed struggle against the British state. This is obviously to be welcomed.

"For some time, it has been understood that the IRA's terrorist campaign against the state has in practice been over. However, this has not applied to continued involvement in a wide range of paramilitary and criminal activities.

"A statement in which the IRA declares an end to its 'armed campaign' does not address a number of issues.

"There is still no clear acceptance of the legitimacy of both the northern and southern states with respect to policing and criminal justice matters. There is no renunciation of their self-proclaimed right to indulge in 'community policing' and dispensing paramilitary beatings.

"It is not for the IRA to retain the right to define which activities do or do not threaten the peace process. Any illegal activity, especially where linked to a potential partner in government, will undermine democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

"Alliance recently published ten benchmarks for assessing the quality of any new commitments from the IRA. None of these are unreasonable expectations, but are rather the hallmarks of a normal society. It is far from clear that all these concerns have been addressed in today's statement.

"It is important that the Governments and parties now test the new commitments against a series of agreed standards. In this respect, the IMC will have a key role to play in verifying that there is in fact an end to the full range of paramilitary and criminal activities.

"It is now important that there is a period of reflection. If any meaningful progress is to take place within the political process, it must be on a firm foundation of integrity and honesty."

ENDS

NOTES

Alliance Party benchmark for assessing paramilitary statement (published 31/5/2005):

1. The IRA must declare an end to all involvement in any paramilitary and criminal activity, and through exclusively lawful means ensure that their

activists desist immediately.

2. Where individual Republicans are involved in paramilitary or criminal activity, others must pass on any information to the lawful authorities and urge others to do likewise. The IRA must accept that obstruction of justice is a crime.

3. The Republican movement must accept the full legitimacy of both the northern and southern states with respect to policing and criminal justice, including definitions of what constitutes a crime.

4. All IRA 'front' organisations and organised crime networks must be dismantled.

5. The IRA 'Army Council' must end all recruitment, training and intelligence gathering, and stand down all its rank and file members. Once

this is carried out and weapons are decommissioned, the organisation, including all command structures, must disband.

6. The Republican movement must renounce the right to engage in 'community policing' or to engage in what is termed 'internal housekeeping'. There must be an end to all paramilitary beating and shootings.

7. The practice of 'exiling', both inside and outside Northern Ireland, must come to an end. Crucially, assurances must be given to those 'exiled' that they can return to Northern Ireland in safety and these assurances must be carried through.

8. All illegally held weapons and explosives must be decommissioned under the aegis of the Decommissioning Commission.

9. Republicans must co-operate fully with the Commission for the Disappeared, and both police services in recovering the remains of 'the

Disappeared'.

10. Republicans must give a commitment not to export their terrorist techniques and expertise to other organisations internationally, either through direct training or other consultancy services, in line with the Terrorism Act (2000).

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