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Alderdice: IMC will not solve crisis at Assembly

By Michael McHugh

Published 05/09/2015

Lord John Alderdice led the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) until 2011
Lord John Alderdice led the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) until 2011

A former member of the commission which monitored the IRA ceasefire has said recreating the organisation to investigate paramilitary activity would not be appropriate.

Lord John Alderdice led the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) until 2011. He said it could take months to set up and added it could not address other political divisions which have driven the power-sharing government at Stormont towards suspension.

The PSNI and unionist politicians have said they would support establishing a new organisation similar to the IMC.

Lord Alderdice told the BBC's Talkback programme: "For people to look back at a form of treatment that worked before and say the symptoms are the same so the diagnosis is the same... the IMC was appropriate for the time and it worked but I don't think it would be an appropriate thing to bring it back.

"You would be talking about something that would take months to function in an effective way."

He said there needed to be a process to deal with political problems in Belfast within the next few weeks.

The IMC was established in 2003 by the British and Irish governments and Lord Alderdice said it took some time for it to earn credibility as an independent voice. It spoke to intelligence agencies from abroad and a range of other sources in making its assessments and established its independence from the governments, once contradicting another organisation designed to oversee IRA arms decommissioning.

The other three commissioners were Joe Brosnan (former head of the Department of Justice in Ireland), John Grieve (former head of the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorist Branch) and Dick Kerr (former deputy director of the CIA). Over some seven-and-a-half years the IMC produced 26 monitoring reports on paramilitary and security activity, submitting its final report to the two governments on March 14, 2011.

Lord Alderdice said there was never a statement from the IRA that it had disbanded but added people had to differentiate between the IRA of the past and today.

Meanwhile, 94 weapons have been recovered by police over the last three years, PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton disclosed.

Ten were rifles, mostly Romanian, and of a type previously used by paramilitaries. Another 40 were shotguns, a kind of weapon mostly linked to non-paramilitary criminals, the senior officer said.

Six sub-machine-guns and 26 handguns were recovered. Another 10 blank-firing pistols had been converted and were of a type previously linked to paramilitaries.

The information followed a question by Ulster Unionist Ross Hussey.

Mr Hussey said: "The question in my mind is what other guns are in the arsenal of terrorists or the criminal fraternity in Northern Ireland?"

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