25 June 2005

Daily Ireland

IMC bill tops £2m

By Jarlath Kearney

The Independent Monitoring Commission has cost taxpayers on both sides of the border over £2 million (€3 million) since January 2004.
Daily Ireland can also reveal that the IMC’s budget between April 2005 and March 2006 will be set at a further £2 million (€3 million).
A Northern Ireland Office spokesperson confirmed the figures to Daily Ireland last night and added: “We plan to publish final audited accounts for the first 15 months of the IMC’s operation in due course.”
The IMC was formally constituted by both the Irish and British governments in January 2004. Its four members are paid £625 (€942) for every day of their professional services. The budget is jointly paid by both governments.
Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) deputy director, Dick Kerr, former Department of Justice secretary general, Joe Brosnan, former Alliance Party leader, John Alderdice, and ex-Scotland Yard Special Branch head, John Grieve, have published a series of controversial reports on alleged paramilitary-related activity in the North.
Republicans have repeatedly criticised the IMC, claiming it is a tool of both governments.
Last night’s revelations came as new statistics from the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) revealed that confidence in the PSNI and the Policing Board has dropped during the past year.
The NIO also disclosed that the North’s Forensic Science Agency failed to maintain key professional accreditation from the United Kingdom Accreditation Service during 2003/04.
Both disclosures are included in the NIO’s annual departmental report which was published yesterday.
According to NIO survey figures for 2004/05, public confidence has fallen in the PSNI’s ability to provide a good service to everyone in the North and “treat both communities equally”.
The percentage of people who think the Policing Board “helps ensure the PSNI does a good job” and is “independent” of the PSNI has also dropped. By contrast, overall confidence in the Police Ombudsman’s office has risen.
One of the NIO’s key public service agreement targets is “increasing confidence in the police throughout all parts of the community in Northern Ireland”.
Commenting on the results, the NIO’s Policing and Security Directorate, headed by senior civil servant, Nick Perry, noted that progress “has declined slightly this year”.
“This is disappointing. The issue of confidence in the police will be carefully considered in the year ahead.”
The NIO annual report also disclosed that during 2003/04 the North’s Forensic Science Agency only met half of its key targets. According to the report: “The agency was not successful in meeting a target relating to the speed with which it turns around casework in those cases where a case is required to be submitted to the DPP within the notified timescale.”
This marked the second year in succession that the agency failed to meet this target.

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