IMC to declare IRA have ‘disappeared’
The Independent Monitoring Commission met in Belfast yesterday to finalise its IRA Army Council report – requested by the British and Irish governments.
The report will be published mid-week, probably Wednesday – when the IMC also plans a Belfast news conference.
Its assessment on the structures of the IRA is seen as key to making progress on the deadlocked issue of the devolution of policing and justice powers.
While the IMC is unlikely to state the Army Council has formally disbanded, this latest and crucial assessment will point to an organisation that has “effectively melted away”.
“The military structures are gone – they're just gone,” a source commented. “The picture is a very clear one and a very good one.”
According to the source there is no evidence of recruitment, activity or fundraising.
“Nothing of that kind at all,” the source continued.
“The IRA's terrorist capacity has effectively disappeared,” he added.
The commissioners at that Belfast meeting yesterday completed the final writing of the IMC assessment.
The Army Council – of seven members – was the IRA's “war” leadership but also had a key role in the making of the peace.
It ordered ceasefires, the decommissioning process and the formal ending of the armed campaign.
That leadership – at what is called a General Army Convention – cleared the way for the republican endorsement of policing.
One of its most “hawkish” members – Brian Keenan – became the organisation's interlocutor with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning an indication of the changing role of the IRA leadership.
Keenan died in May.
A source commenting on the latest – and now completed – IMC assessment said: “It's not a long report but there's a lot in it.”
Its content will be read most closely by the DUP, the largest party in the Stormont Executive.
It met with the IMC in Belfast on Friday.
Asked yesterday by the Belfast Telegraph, did he expect the IMC would be in a position to say the Army Council has disbanded, Ian Paisley junior responded: “No.”
“The issue of the Army Council is very important to us,” he continued, “but it's not the only issue.
“I don't think there's been any significant change in terms of it going away or evaporating.
“We are still wondering why this report was requested by the NIO other than for political reasons,” he added.