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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 12:19 GMT
Violence levels 'still high'
Guns
The commission looked at ongoing paramilitary activity
Paramilitary violence had "considerably reduced" in the last six months but remained "at a disturbingly high level", a ceasefire watchdog has found.

The Independent Monitoring Commission's third report, delivered last week to the British and Irish Governments, was released on Thursday.

In its report, the commission gave its assessment of various paramilitary groups in the period from 1 March to 31 August 2004.

IRA

The commission said that since its last report, the IRA had not fundamentally changed its capacity or "its maintenance of a state of preparedness".

It added that they found "no evidence of activity that might presage a return to a paramilitary campaign".

"Over the period covered by this report, so far as Northern Ireland is concerned, we saw no signs of the PIRA winding down its capability," the report said.

"It continued to recruit, though in small numbers, and to gather intelligence."

The commission said the IRA had committed no murders and fewer paramilitary shootings and assaults.

Towards the end of the period covered by the report, the commission said the IRA "appears to have suspended action against those it believed to be behaving anti-socially while still monitoring what people are doing".

It linked the IRA to "significant" smuggling activity and to a "major" robbery at a warehouse on the outskirts of Belfast in May.

It added that in the Irish Republic, the IRA had closed down some of its organised crime activity and there was no real evidence of violent paramilitary activity.

Continuity IRA / Real IRA

The commission said dissident republican groups were the "most committed to continuing terrorism".

It said the Real IRA's status had not changed since its first report, as "potentially dangerous" with "access to a considerable quantity of arms and equipment", but lacking an organised structure.

The group was blamed for threats against prison officers and people involved in the new policing arrangements, as well as a number of postal bombs.

It was responsible for a "serious shooting attack against a PSNI station in September".

The commission said the Real IRA "remains a considerable threat" which it believed would "continue to be active, even if its capabilities do not always match its aspirations".

On the dissident Continuity IRA, it said the group remained active in Northern Ireland.

It said the group had targeted members of the security forces and attempted a bomb attack against them, was responsible for a series of hoaxes and attempted an improvised incendiary device attack.

"Its relative lack of operational success reflects its capacity, not the absence of intent," the commission said.

It said CIRA had "increased its level of activity, remains capable of making effective attacks, albeit sporadically, and is a dangerous organisation which intends to continue to engage in acts of terrorism and other crime".

Ulster Volunteer Force

The IMC report said the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) remained "an active and violent organisation" which it linked to two of the four paramilitary murders which had occurred from the end of February to September.

The UVF was also blamed for bomb attacks against nationalists.

The commission blamed individual UVF members for a series of violent racial attacks in Belfast, although it did not believe these were sanctioned by the leadership.

The UVF also remained involved in organised crime, it said.

The report said: "We note the UVF ended its feud with the LVF following the LVF decision to stand down its members responsible for that feud.

"We also note that the senior UVF members have restated their commitment to the loyalist ceasefire statement of October 1994.

"Nevertheless, we conclude that the UVF remains a ruthless organisation retaining a capacity for more widespread violence and, as the feud with the LVF showed, if it judged the circumstances appropriate we believe that it would engage in it."

Ulster Defence Association (UDA)

The commission said the UDA remained active during the six months covered by the report.

Although the UDA was not involved in any murders during the period, the commissioners said it carried out a number of paramilitary shootings and attacks.

It blamed the UDA for a "vicious sectarian attack" against three Catholic men in August and it was also reported that it remained heavily engaged in criminal activity, including drugs.

The commission noted that the UDA leadership, like the IRA, tried to avoid disorder during the summer marching season in sectarian flashpoint areas, but similarly also took "preparatory steps" to defend their areas from attack.

It concluded: "The UDA remains heavily involved in many kinds of organised crime and remains an active organisation capable of more widespread violence, with the will to commit it if judged appropriate."




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Report given to governments
28 Oct 04  |  Northern Ireland


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