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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 September, 2003, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Ex-CIA chief for ceasefire body
Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy
Paul Murphy revealed details of the commission's role

A former US intelligence chief is to sit on a new body monitoring paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland.

Richard Kerr, a former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, will join two people nominated by the British Government, and an Irish Government representative on the Independent Monitoring Commission.

The commission will report on the IRA and loyalist ceasefires every six months and scrutinise the government's programme of demilitarisation and complaints about political tactics which threaten the stability of the devolved institutions.

Details of the commission's role were revealed by Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy on Thursday.

It is understood that the British nominee to the body will be Commander John Grieve, former head of the Metropolitan Police's anti-terrorist squad.

The retired commander will join the Stormont Speaker Lord Alderdice and the senior Irish official Joe Brosnan.

John Grieve
Mr Grieve is the former head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist squad

However, only the British Government's nominees - Lord Alderdice and John Grieve - will examine how devolved ministers and Northern Ireland parties are honouring their commitments under the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Murphy said the establishment of the commission was a crucial element in London and Dublin's plan for restoring devolution in the province, which has been suspended since last October.

He said: "I believe that it will play a valuable role in helping to provide assurance that the necessary moves towards a genuinely peaceful and democratic society with stable devolved government that we want to see are real and permanent."

Mr Murphy said the goverment hoped to pass the necessary legislation at Westminster as soon as possible.

The commission has been a source of controversy for the Ulster Unionist Party, with a number of prominent members voicing concern over the role of the Irish Government's nominee.

Mr Murphy said the commission would assess loyalist and republican involvement in a range of activity including murders, attacks on the security forces, sectarian violence, rioting and crime, to intelligence gathering, targeting, training, weapons procurement, punishment attacks and exiling.

It will also assess whether paramilitary leaders are directing such activities or trying to prevent them.

The commission will also be asked to assess how the government is honouring its commitment to scale down military installations, and if it is meeting agreed timescales.

In particular, commission members will examine the demolition of Army towers and observation posts in Northern Ireland, the withdrawal of troops and the closure and dismantling of military bases and installations.

Lord Alderdice
Lord Alderdice is thought to be the body's NI member

A report will be prepared on the government's security normalisation programme.

If a political party in Northern Ireland alleges another is in breach of the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Grieve and Lord Alderdice will be asked to investigate if a devolved minister or party is not committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means.

They will also examine if a minister has failed to observe any of the terms of their pledge of office.

The commission will report their findings solely to the British Government and recommend what measures, if any, should be taken by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The commission arose out of discussions on the joint declaration earlier this year involving London and Dublin and the political parties.

It formed part of a side deal between the two governments, stemming from demands by the Ulster Unionist Party for effective sanctions against those who breach the Agreement.

Sinn Fein has said a sanctions mechanism already exists within the Good Friday Agreement to deal with breaches, and insists the commission is itself a breach of the accord.

Published in May, the joint declaration outlined plans to reduce troop numbers to 5,000 as part of an attempt to move the Northern Ireland political process forward.

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'Efforts' to address monitor fears
26 Jul 03  |  Northern Ireland
Unionists to examine violence monitor
19 Sep 02  |  Northern Ireland

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