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Brian Rowan: The IRA is now sleeping and there’s no need to wake it up

As the DUP and Sinn Fein face each other across the negotiating table, Brian Rowan says yesterday’s IMC report has left few in doubt about the IRA current state

It would almost be like waking someone up to give them a sleeping tablet.”

This was IMC commissioner Lord Alderdice responding to a question on why the IRA has not stated publicly that its military structures have been disbanded.

You can see what he means.

Why wake it up? Why all the political fuss about a leadership that in the words of the Independent Monitoring Commission is neither “operational” nor “functional”?

Look in the dictionary and read its definition of those words.

l Operational: currently functioning or in a state in which functioning is now possible.

l Functional: capable of performing a function.

In the words and report and assessment of the IMC, the IRA Army Council is neither of the above.

“They know perfectly well there is not a problem with the IRA.” The source is talking about the DUP – “their problem is an internal one,” he suggests.

This is an opinion being expressed more and more — that Peter Robinson in these early and difficult days of his leadership is being held back by some inside and others outside his party.

Martin McGuinness, for years identified with the IRA leadership and its Army Council and its “war”, is the Deputy First Minister.

Given that Stormont reality, why then can policing and justice powers not be devolved?

It is not about the IRA and any continuing threat it poses.

Just read the IMC assessment: “The so-called ‘military’ departments have ceased to function and have been disbanded.

“It has been put to us that these structural changes have had a profound and debilitating effect on the organisational capacity of PIRA.

“We share that view and consider that the organisation’s former terrorist capability has been lost.”

Republicans, on this issue of the disbandment of the Army Council, talk about “initiative fatigue” — meaning that after ceasefires, decommissioning, ending the armed campaign and support for policing there is not the energy or the will or, in their minds, the need to do more to meet another DUP demand.

They are clear in their thinking that this has nothing to do with an IRA threat and everything to do with a DUP facing “internal difficulties”.

The IMC has said all it can — there will be no better report.

“We were asked to expand on our previous assessments of the IRA and the Provisional Army Council. So we’ve done that,” Lord Alderdice said in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph.

“We’ve done it as fully as we can,” he continued, “(and) we don’t really expect to be able to say anything much more than this.”

After years of war and turmoil in which the IRA played a major part, that organisation is now sleeping in the peace.

The IMC believes that is how it will remain: “The Provisional IRA of the recent and violent past is well beyond recall,” its report stated.

That’s the thinking of the Independent Monitoring Commission — based on the best intelligence information available to all the various security agencies.

It means the war is over.

The issue is whether ‘P O’Neill’ needs to, or wants to, come out of his sleep to tell us what we already know.

Is it worth wakening the IRA just for that purpose?

Belfast Telegraph

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