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Envoy Mitchell Reiss in warning on Northern Ireland ceasefire watchdog

By Steven Alexander

Published 18/09/2015

Caution urged: Mitchell Reiss
Caution urged: Mitchell Reiss

A former US special envoy to Northern Ireland has warned that a new 'ceasefire watchdog' may not be the best solution for getting out of the current political crisis.

In 2006, Mitchell Reiss famously denied Gerry Adams a visa to the US, to encourage Sinn Fein to back new policing and justice arrangements in Northern Ireland.

His tough line impressed unionists at the time - but last night, the diplomat told the BBC's The View that a successor to the now-defunct Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) might not be the panacea for Stormont's ills.

The IMC was first set up in 2004 to monitor the paramilitary ceasefires and completed its work in 2011. The idea for a new IMC is supported by First Minister Peter Robinson and is being given "serious consideration" by the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers.

But Mr Reiss warned that it should not be "an end in itself".

"Does it support political reconciliation? Does it help move the peace process forward? Those are the key questions. If the answers to those questions are yes, then I would argue people should move ahead with the IMC 2.0," he said.

"If they're not, or people are uncertain, then I think it calls for some caution, or perhaps there are other ways in which other institutions, commissions or committees, other ways in which you can enhance political reconciliation in the north. That's the real point here, not whether we can form this or that committee."

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