30 January 2006

Governments are given IMC report

BBC

The Independent Monitoring Commission has handed its latest report on paramilitary activity to the British and Irish governments.

The report will not be made public until later this week.

It is expected to report positively on the lack of IRA paramilitary activity since the organisation said it was ending its campaign last year.

However, the report is also likely to reflect the PSNI's belief republicans are still involved in organised crime.

NI Security Minister Shaun Woodward said: "What people will have to do is wait to Wednesday, look at that IMC report and the question they have to ask is what progress has been made."

He said he had "absolute confidence in the IMC".

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness said there had been a "political briefing" to the media ahead of the IMC report's publication.

"The fact is the IMC is not an independent body with its own investigative powers," he said.

'Portrayed as crucial'

The Independent Monitoring Commission was set up by the British and Irish governments in January 2004 to monitor the activity of paramilitary organisations.

It also monitors the "normalisation" of security measures in Northern Ireland.

Its four commissioners come from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Britain and the US.

BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport said: "The four IMC commissioners will be in Belfast on Monday finalising their report before, if all goes to plan, handing it to the governments during the afternoon.

"When the IRA called off its campaign and disarmed last year, this report was being portrayed as crucial to providing the organisation with a so-called 'clean bill of health'.

"But in the intervening months, expectations have been tempered - especially after the leak of a confidential police assessment that the IRA was making some progress in some areas, but had not ceased involvement in organised crime.

"Government sources said they hoped today's report would show the organisation was closing down, but they don't expect a 'council of perfection'."

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