01 February 2006

IRA denies reneging on its pledges

RTÉ

01 February 2006 15:43

The IRA has denied allegations that the organisation had gone back on the pledges it made last year.

A statement signed by P O'Neill today said that the IRA has honoured all public commitments made in July last year, and that any allegations to the contrary were politically motivated.

The statement follows the release of the latest report by the Independent Monitoring Commission.

In its report the IMC says its firm view is that the present IRA leadership has taken the strategic decision to end the armed campaign and pursue the political course.

But it also says there are some signs that are neutral and a few more that are disturbing.

It says there are indications that the IRA appears to retain long-term intentions to gather intelligence, which the IMC says is a matter for concern.

The commission says it believes the IRA continues to engage in intelligence gathering, and has no present intention of doing otherwise.

It says it believes this is an activity that is authorised by the leadership and which involves some very senior members. While some of it may be for defensive purposes, the report says such activity is predominantly directed towards supporting the political strategy.

On the issue of republican paramilitary involvement in criminality, the IMC report says it does not believe that recent punishment beatings were sanctioned by the leadership but that the contrary appears to be the case.

Referring to allegations that an IRA member or former member may have been involved in the killing of Dublin man Joseph Rafferty in April 2005, the IMC report says it has no reason to believe the murder was carried out on behalf of the IRA.

However, the IMC believes that members of both Sinn Féin and the IRA were aware in advance of the threat and 'did not take sufficient action to prevent it'.

Loyalists

Turning to loyalist paramilitary groups, the IMC says it believes the Ulster Defence Association was behind the killing of one of its former leaders, Jim Gray, in east Belfast last October.

While UDA leaders signalled last November that they wanted to engage with the Government in talks about their organisation's future, the IMC also accused them of a sectarian attack in early September, trying to procure weapons, drug dealing, extortion, money laundering, producing and selling counterfeit goods and robbery.

The commission claims that that the UDA and the Ulster Volunteer Force orchestrated disturbances after restrictions were imposed on an Orange Order parade in the Whiterock area of west Belfast in September.

The UVF and Red Hand Commando remained, in the IMC's view, active, despite the ending of its feud with the rival LVF in August.

The commission said UVF members carried out shootings and assaults and also sectarian attacks between September and late November.

The IMC said the UVF had tried to acquire weapons and while it remained involved in organised crime, the leadership was making efforts to reduce criminality, especially drug dealing, within its ranks.

The IMC noted that the Loyalist Volunteer Force declared in October that it would stand down its military units. But the commission said there was no evidence of this occurring as yet.

During the period under review, the LVF, which ended a bloody feud with the UVF in August, remained heavily involved in organised crime, including drugs, said the IMC report.

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