Stand by your ministerial cars, the International Monitoring Commission is going to clear the way for a ‘Policing and Justice Minister’ declaring that the IRA Army Council no longer exists or, perhaps, if it is more useful, never existed.
If asked, it will also confirm the existence of Santa, the Tooth Fairy and anything else that helps the DUP and Sinn Fein get round the difficulties their manifestoes and their mutual loathing of each other have created. Having spouted on for ages about the IRA needing to disappear, presumably with all the proceeds of their illegal activities intact, the DUP now needs the IMC to declare the job done.
In days gone by the DUP saw the IMC as a toothless tiger — willing to say anything to please the NIO and those performing poodles in the pro-agreement camp.
Now the IMC is a useful tool, informing the decision-making process within the DUP. How the worm has turned!
The IMC could play a highly valuable role at this juncture. All it has to do is to refuse to give any report. It should refuse to make any political judgments on behalf of our politicians.
If the DUP want to know whether the IRA Army Council exists, they should ask their partners in government — Sinn Fein. They should consider Sinn Fein’s response and make their own decision. In fact, the DUP should call for the IMC not to produce a report, pointing out that any utterances from the IMC would be viewed as potentially partial advice, unhelpful in these circumstances. The DUP should demand the right to make their own political judgment and then do so.
So a challenge to Peter Robinson: do you believe the IRA Army Council still exists? By the way, if yes, why are you in government with Sinn Fein? And if no, why haven’t we seen the devolution of policing and justice?