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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 October, 2004, 18:50 GMT 19:50 UK
NI ceasefire report expected
Independent Monitoring Commission
The Independent Monitoring Commission's second report is due
A ceasefire watchdog is expected to deliver its second report on continuing paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland to the British Government on Thursday.

According to one source, the Independent Monitoring Commission's report will show a "reasonably significant reduction" in IRA activity, including paramilitary shootings and assaults.

The four commissioners - Lord Alderdice, John Grieve, Joe Brosnan and Richard Kerr - met in Belfast last week to finalise their report.

The report will be hand-delivered to the Irish Government on Thursday, and both the Northern Ireland Office and Dublin are expected to take a few days to study its findings before making them public.

It was set to be given to the British Government on Wednesday, but there has been a slight delay.

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A significant part of the latest document is expected to concentrate on organised crime, including a number of robberies in recent months.

The police have linked republicans to these, but it is not clear if the commission will go any further.

Thefts being linked to republicans include the armed robbery of 1m worth of goods from a wholesale store on the outskirts of Belfast in May.

Meanwhile, the head of the decommissioning body, General John de Chastelain, has returned to Belfast, despite a lack of certainty about the outcome of the present round of negotiations.

Guns

Senior members of the DUP and Sinn Fein have been in London on Tuesday amid efforts to try to break the political deadlock in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and party colleague Martin McGuinness were understood to be in talks with British and Irish Government officials, while DUP leader Ian Paisley and his deputy Peter Robinson were involved in separate talks.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Monday that the next few weeks in the political process would be critical.

The institutions in Northern Ireland were suspended two years ago amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the Northern Ireland Office.

At the conclusion of intensive political talks at Leeds Castle in Kent last month, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern said the thorny issues of IRA disarmament and future paramilitary activity appeared to be resolved.

However, the two governments were unable to get the Northern Ireland Assembly parties to sign up to a deal over power-sharing after unionists and nationalists clashed over future devolved institutions.

The sticking points in the political process have included the method of electing a first and deputy first minister, a date when the assembly can control policing, and whether or not 30 assembly members can challenge ministerial decisions.




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