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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 09:09 GMT
IMC to report on paramilitaries
The IMC
The IMC monitors paramilitary activity
The latest report from the Independent Monitoring Commission on paramilitary activity in NI is due to be published.

Police say the IRA is still involved in organised crime, a view at odds with Security Minister Shaun Woodward.

On Wednesday, NI Secretary Peter Hain said IRA members were still involved in criminality but it was not sanctioned by the leadership.

The DUP said whatever progress the IMC reports will not be sufficient. Sinn Fein attacked the IMC's credibility.

The British and Irish governments hope the report will show the IRA is keeping its promise to end its campaign.

Mr Hain said he was cautiously optimistic.

He told BBC News he did "not expect the executive to be up and running tomorrow" but there was every reason "for everybody to sit down and discuss where to go".

"The assembly's been out of business for over three years now, and this can't continue for too long in the future," said Mr Hain.

BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport said: "While both governments know the report will not provide the IRA with a clean bill of health, they are hoping it will be positive enough to help spur on political talks which are due to start next week.

"The DUP, however, says whatever progress the IMC identifies will fall well short of the level of certainty unionists want and expect of Sinn Fein.

"For their part, Sinn Fein have renewed their assault on the IMC as politically biased and lacking independence."

Armed campaign

"Republicans don't talk to the commission, but via their lawyers they have challenged the accuracy of a section of the commission's last report which claimed that the IRA had carried out a punishment style shooting in early August."

In July 2005, the IRA announced that it had formally ordered the end of its armed campaign.

This statement was further backed up in September when the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning said the organisation had put all of its weapons beyond use.

In its last report in October, the IMC reported that, although it was too early to draw firm conclusions about the IRA ending all activities, there were encouraging signs to show the organisation was moving away from its armed campaign.

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.




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