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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 December 2005, 12:40 GMT
IRA 'is not involved with crime'
IRA gunman
The IRA announced it had decommissioned in July
The IRA is no longer involved in organised crime, Security Minister Shaun Woodward has said.

In October, a report by the Independent Monitoring Commission said signs that the IRA had ended its armed campaign "were encouraging".

Mr Woodward said he understood there would be scepticism but said the next IMC report in January would demonstrate whether the IRA was true to its word.

The DUP's Ian Paisley Junior said the minister's comments were "nonsense".

Mr Woodward said he would be looking to see what conclusions the commission came to.

'Keeping word'

He said the IRA had indicated in their July statement that they would be ending all criminality.

"We believe from the evidence we have seen, we believe from the reports, and critically the reports from the Independent Monitoring Commission, that the IRA is keeping to its word.

"Now of course there will be another report in January and we will be looking to see what that report says."

But Ian Paisley Junior said Mr Woodward's suggestions demonstrated "a level of complacency that was not acceptable in a security minister".

"Also, his comments suggest that the government is intent on trying to fix the next IMC report that will focus on IRA criminal activity," he said.

Allowances

"The fact is no-one, not even the most optimistic peace process cheerleader, will accept the statement that the IRA's criminal activity in organised crime has overnight been switched off."

In its last report the IMC said it was still too early to draw firm conclusions that that IRA had ended all its activities.

However, despite this the government said it would restore Sinn Fein's assembly and Westminster allowances.

Sinn Fein assembly members and MPs had allowances suspended after the IMC accused the IRA of involvement in the robbery of 26.5m from the Northern Bank in Belfast, and other paramilitary activity.

The IMC reports on the activity of all of Northern Ireland's paramilitaries.




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