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Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK
Violence monitor plans in place
The IRA said it remained committed to the peace process
Any violence by paramilitary groups will be monitored
Arrangements for the independent monitoring of paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland are being put in place, the secretary of state has said.

John Reid said the level of violence, including that committed by paramilitaries, remained a matter of "serious concern".

He said he was still considering who to appoint but hoped to make a formal announcement soon.

The independent auditor is expected to issue quarterly reports, with the first to be delivered before Christmas.

However, the political and legal decision on whether a ceasefire has been broken or not will rest with Dr Reid.

Dr John Reid
Dr John Reid: Announced arrangements for monitor

Dr Reid made the announcement after speaking to Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street on Monday.

He said: "Periodic reports setting out from an independent perspective just what is happening, can only assist in bringing further pressure to bear on those responsible.

"Therefore, it would be appropriate to put in place arrangements for an independent monitoring of the level of violence in Northern Ireland and the nature of paramilitary involvement in it."

He said the position would be filled by someone focused on "bringing greater transparency to the pattern of violence and the involvement of both loyalist and republican paramilitary organisations in it".

Dr Reid, who announced to the House of Commons in July that he was considering such an appointment, said he had consulted widely about how the information would be brought together.

He added: "The monitor will not solve the problem of paramilitary violence, nor will he relieve me of the obligation to review all the available information in judging whether each paramilitary organisation is maintaining a ceasefire.

"But I do believe that this new mechanism will help to create a greater sense of openness and reinforce the transition to a normal democratic society."

Gerry Adams: Concern over future of the Agreement
Gerry Adams: Plans would be a 'distraction'

Earlier, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams described plans for a violence monitor as a "distraction".

He was speaking after he and party colleagues held an hour -long meeting with the prime minister and secretary of state in Downing Street.

Dr Reid has denied the appointment of a violence monitor is designed to help the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble ahead of the weekend meeting of his party's ruling council.

He has said an independent monitor is in the public interest.

In a BBC interview on Monday, Dr Reid said that "in the round" he judged that the Provisional IRA and the UVF were on ceasefire.

Welcome

The main objector to the plan has been Sinn Fein who said inviting an outsider in to scrutinise the ceasefires would not benefit the political process.

The SDLP opposed a monitor being appointed, but said now that it was going ahead, the British and Irish governments should appoint monitors to look at paramilitary activity on both sides of the border.

The Ulster Unionists and Democratic Unionist Party have welcomed the measure as a way of putting pressure on republicans in particular.

The Alliance Party is taking credit for proposing the idea.

Last year, Dr Reid declared the ceasefires of the largest loyalist organisation the Ulster Defence Association and the Loyalist Volunteer Force invalid.

Since then, loyalists close to the UDA leadership have met Dr Reid.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Martina Purdy:
"Dr Reid said paramilitary violence remained a serious matter"
Find out more about the latest moves in the Northern Ireland peace process

Devolution crisis

Analysis

Background

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See also:

18 Sep 02 | N Ireland
30 Aug 02 | N Ireland
24 Jul 02 | N Ireland
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