20 October 2005

Provos warned they must let exiles go home

Irish Independent

THE Provisional IRA was warned yesterday it must allow those it had 'exiled' from the North to go back home if it wanted to pass the criminality exam set by the two governments.

The International Monitoring Commissioning (IMC) said exiling was one of the tests to determine if a group had given up illegality.

And it underlined its failure so far to find evidence that any paramilitary group was generally allowing the return of those it had exiled or was considering doing so.

In its seventh report, published yesterday by the two governments, the IMC noted that the IRA statement last July had made no specific reference to exiling.

Although there was evidence of continued exiling, it [PIRA], had also decided to allow some it had previously exiled to return to the Short Strand in Belfast, possibly because of reaction to the murder of Robert McCartney.

The IMC said that as the IRA statement ending its terror campaign came after five months of the six under review, it was too early to draw firm conclusions about possible overall changes in behaviour, although there were some moves in IRA structures.

"Clearly, we are looking for cumulative indications of changes in behaviour over a more sustained period, building on the IRA statement of July 28 and the decommissioning of weapons reported on September 26," the IMC said.

But it gave a more positive assessment for August and said the IRA had been responsible for only one attack that month when the victim was a Provisional. There had been incidents of people suspected of anti-social behaviour in nationalist communities being intimidated, extortion of businesses, and intimidation designed to limit the activities of dissident republicans.

"It is not possible at this stage to say whether these activities were authorised by the leadership," the IMC said.

The report blamed the Real IRA for the violent attack on the deputy chairman of the Policing Board, Denis Bradley.

Meanwhile, the two governments are withholding final judgment on whether the IRA has ended all its activities until the next IMC report is issued in January.

The latest report was considered encouraging enough for Mr Hain to lift the financial penalties that had been imposed on Sinn Fein.

These were withdrawn after the Northern Bank raid in December.

Tom Brady and
Gene McKenna

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