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Alliance sets out benchmarks for assessing IRA statement

May 31, 2005 12:00 AM

The Alliance Party has set out a series of benchmarks against which the two Governments and other parties should assess any future IRA statement in order to establish if there is a basis for meaningful progress on an inclusive basis. These benchmarks are also applicable to Loyalist organisations.

Party Leader, David Ford, said:

"There is speculation that there will be shortly be a fresh statement from the IRA on its future intentions.

"Alliance has not been satisfied with any of statements issued by the IRA -- or indeed the Loyalist organisations -- to date. If there is to be any meaningful progress including Republicans over the next few weeks, it is important that Governments and other parties make clear what commitments are expected from them. To date, there has been insufficient debate and discussion on this point.

"Throughout the peace process, too much attention has fallen on decommissioning at the expense of a full debate on exactly what was being required of Republicans and Loyalists. As a result the IRA has been allowed to fudge, and Republicans have not been held to account.

"Recent IRA statements have been different ways of presenting the argument that the IRA is no longer a threat to the peace process, and that their campaign of terrorism is over. However, they have never given confidence regarding an end to all paramilitary and criminal activity.

"The IRA has always drawn arbitrary distinctions between an end to military activities directed against the state or Unionists and their other paramilitary and criminal activity. The IRA assumes the right to define what actions threaten the Agreement, and, by inference, which ones do not. Several times, Governments have let them away with this.

"Such distinctions are meaningless and affront to democracy. All paramilitary and criminal activity has an effect on both the specific victims and on society as a whole. This is corrosive of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

"Foolish politicians calling on the IRA to simply state that the 'war is over', or accepting its definition of a 'ceasefire', are playing the IRA game.

"Having being let down so often, the Governments and other parties should have their own set of benchmarks against which to assess any new commitments and actions by Republicans. Society must feel comfortable and have confidence in their intentions.

"We must reach a shared understanding now if the foundations of genuine progress in the peace process are to be laid over the next few months.

Alliance suggests the following ten benchmarks. The list is not meant to be exhaustive, and no doubt others will have their own views on the matter.

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).

"It should be stressed again that all the above also apply to Loyalist paramilitary groups."

ENDS

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