02 February 2006

‘Bullshit’

Daily Ireland

SINN FÉIN CHIEF NEGOTIATOR CONDEMNS IMC REPORT AS ‘BULLSHIT OF THE HIGHEST ORDER’ IRA STATEMENT REFUTES IMC ALLEGATIONS ABOUT RETAINING WEAPONS AS ‘POLITICALLY MOTIVATED’ IMC REPORT AT ODDS WITH CONCLUSIONS REACHED BY GENERAL DE CHASTELAIN AND GARDA SÍOCHÁNA

By Jarlath Kearney
02/02/2006

Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness has angrily rubbished allegations in yesterday’s IMC report that the IRA withheld weapons from last September’s disarmament process.
In a statement last night, the IRA leadership rejected the IMC allegations as “politically motivated”.
A political row developed yesterday after the IMC report appeared to undermine the conclusions reached by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning led by General John de Chastelain.
Following last September’s process of putting all IRA weapons beyond use, General de Chastelain expressed confidence that the IRA had completely discharged its commitments.
However, the IMC yesterday challenged the decommissioning body’s conclusions.
“We have since received reports that not all PIRA’s weapons and ammunition were handed over for decommissioning in September,” the IMC said.
“These reports are not able to indicate precisely what is the nature or volume of any remaining weapons but suggest two things — first, that there is a range of different kinds of weapons and ammunition; second, that the material goes beyond what might possibly have been expected to have missed decommissioning, such as a limited number of handguns kept for personal protection or some items the wherebouts of which were no longer known.
“We recognise that, if these reports were confirmed, the key question would be how much the PIRA leadership knew about these weapons,” the IMC said.
In a later statement yesterday, General John de Chastelain’s decommissioning body strongly contradicted the IMC’s allegations of IRA bad faith.
The decommissioning body attributed the source of recent questions about the IRA’s disarmament process to “security sources in Northern Ireland”.
“Last week, we were informed by security sources in Northern Ireland that they had intelligence to the effect that some individuals and groups within the IRA have retained a range of arms, including handguns,” it said.
“If substantiated, this assessment would be at variance with the statement we made last September that we believed all IRA arms had been decommissioned commensurate with our remit. Accordingly we undertook to examine whether, in light of the assessment, we were misinformed or had made a misjudgment in September.
“Over the past week, we have discussed the intelligence assessment with senior officers in the Garda Síochána… the Garda informed us that what they regard as reliable sources in relation to the IRA and its weaponry have produced no intelligence suggesting any arms have been retained.”
The decommissioning body said two meetings had taken place last week with the IRA representative who was responsible for overseeing the process of putting the organisation’s weapons beyond use.
“In our first meeting last week, the IRA representative… assured us that no IRA arms had been retained or placed in long -term hides,” the decommissioning body said.
“In a meeting later in the week, the representative told us that, following our earlier discussion, the IRA leadership questioned each of their commanders about the intelligence assessment. These have confirmed that all the arms under their control were decommissioned in September, as we stated.
“We conclude that, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, our 26 September assessment regarding IRA arms remains correct.”
At a later press conference, Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness was asked to give his view on the IMC allegations of IRA bad faith.
He said the IMC received its briefings from “people within the process who are hostile to it”.
“I think it is, with respect, bullshit of the highest order,” he added.
“Those who supply the information for the IMC reports include DUP supporters in Special Branch and are the same people who collapsed the political institutions and who ten years ago were controlling and directing a murder campaign against Sinn Féin members and the wider nationalist community.
“It is unacceptable that the entire political process is being held to ransom by these people. Sinn Féin have challenged the IMC and the two governments to produce evidence to back up allegations contained in other IMC reports. They have all failed to do so,” Mr McGuinness said.

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