04 February 2006

IMC would love to visit Catholic communities when the roads are better and electricity has been installed

Daily Ireland


Ninth report of the Independent Monitoring Commission. Presented to the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland under articles 4 and 7 of the International Agreement establishing the Independent Monitoring Commission.
(It is our hope that most people reading this will take that ‘International Agreement’ bit to mean the Good Friday Agreement, even though we have nothing to do with the Good Friday Agreement.)
First of all we would like to say a few words in the most long-winded and pompous style imaginable in order to suggest to the average reader that we know what day it is. When in fact we don’t.
Actually we’re four old buffers who don’t know the difference between Ballymurphy and the Bogside, but it is our fervent hope that the public will be mightily impressed by our intellectual effervescence if we churn out a lot of guff like this. And this.
The governments have requested this additional report on the activities of the PIRA. Of course, PIRA is a secret organisation about which we know nothing, so the governments have very kindly agreed to let us speak to their people, who do know something about PIRA. We have now spoken to the governments’ people who have told us what they know about PIRA and that information we now duly present to the governments in this report the information that the governments’ people have told us.
As usual we will begin with a few embarrassingly wee paragraphs about how far we’ve come along the road to peace and how things have improved considerably since our last report, but not considerably enough.
In our last report we were criticised for patronising Catholics in our reference to places where the ‘culture of lawfulness’ does not obtain. It was not our intention to denigrate a particular community, but we would be foolish to ignore the reality that no one in west Belfast pays their TV licence and the coal they keep in the bath is in all likelihood smuggled. The sooner they adopt a culture of lawfulness the better. We suggest they take a look at leafy south Belfast where the lawyers and doctors all live and which has the highest crime rate in the country.
We urge the ordinary decent Catholic people of priest-ridden bandit districts like Ballylodge and Turf Murphy to stay in their cottages when there is unrest at the crossroads and not to vote for anyone with a funny Irish name.
We have noted a growing willingness to engage with the PSNI on the part of Catholics as they make their way to the dole or the snooker hall.
The more they do this, the less paramilitary groups will be able to exercise the community control to which they have for long been accustomed.
Granted, not one of us has ever set foot in the communities to which we are referring, but we hope in the future to be able to travel to such places when the roads are better and electricity is installed.
We turn now to PIRA and at the outset we want to welcome the very significant act of decommissioning that took place last year witnessed by a minister and a Romish priest.
Clearly this was a momentous event but it is our duty to state our sincerely held opinion the clerics were telling lies when they described what they had seen. The evidence that PIRA are still armed is overwhelming. We were standing outside Deane’s restaurant waiting for a taxi just after Christmas when we heard a bloke behind us remark that it was entirely possible that PIRA had kept some guns, although he wasn’t clear on the exact amount because, to be honest, he was absolutely bladdered.
And we have received entirely credible reports (printed first in the Sunday Times, Sunday Independent and Sunday Telegraph) that PIRA are still tooled-up and dangerous.
PIRA are still heavily involved in criminality. We ourselves visited a sweetie shop near the border which has collection boxes for Irish language schools beside their tills and which put ads in their windows for Gaelic sporting events.
We urge the Chief Constable to look into this very serious matter. A chap in Thiepval barracks called Nigel (green jumper with patches on the shoulders) told us this shop is a front for an international money-laundering ring stretching from Hong Kong to the Cayman Islands and back to Jonesboro.
The UDA and UVF continue to murder people for looking sideways at their members in pubs. Loyalist communities are awash with drugs. We commend those loyalist paramilitaries who are trying to steer their groups on to a more peaceful path (one is now living in Australia, the other one is expected to be taken off the ventilator later this year).
We note that the situation on the ground in loyalist areas is much improved since our last report – the number of murders has dropped by 0.4 per cent, arson attacks are down and in the past three months there were no deaths associated with the consumption of class A drugs.
Finally, we turn our attention to community workers who volunteer to mediate in disputes – clearly the single biggest danger to society extant today.
Community Restorative Justice is clearly the spawn of the devil and is tighly controlled by PIRA. We reject utterly the suggestion that such community workers might be shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries if we say they’re working for PIRA.
That is a mischievous suggestion and fails to reflect the huge strides being made by loyalist paramilitaries in moving away from violence, as evidenced by the UPRG statement last month (“Give us a few quid and we’ll think about easing up a bit.”).

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