Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Reaction to IMC statement

Leading figures have been giving their reaction to the latest report by the Independent Monitoring Commission into paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER

Prime Minister Tony Blair
Tony Blair said there had been significant progress

A fair summary of what the IMC has said is that they draw attention to their belief that there has indeed been a strategic decision by the leadership of the IRA to give up the armed struggle.

What they have also said, however, is that they are concerned about violence and criminality.

Let me make it clear once again, all criminal activity has to cease. That is absolutely crucial.

But it would be quite wrong if the right honourable gentleman (Rev Ian Paisley) was suggesting that there had not been very significant progress or that the statement that the IRA gave last July was not highly significant.

PETER HAIN, NORTHERN IRELAND SECRETARY

It shows that the IRA is moving in the right direction and is closing down - no murders, no recruitment and no bank robberies.

Peter Hain
Peter Hain said the IMC report was "positive"

There is enough progress in this report to make the process of talking meaningful - not an executive up and running tomorrow, but the beginning of a process of genuine and purposeful engagement.

For the good of the people of Northern Ireland we need to strive to get to where we want to go and not get mired in where we've been.

DERMOT AHERN, IRISH FOREIGN MINISTER

Firstly, it raises the challenges to the IRA leadership in relation to the outstanding issue that all forms of criminality must cease in order to allow partnership politics to take place in Northern Ireland.

Dermot Ahern said the report raised challenges

Secondly, the IMC report challenges the loyalist paramilitary groups to follow the path set by the IRA in their significant moves last year.

But thirdly it challenges not only both the governments but also the political parties to reassert the primacy of politics and to engage with others.

IAN PAISLEY, DUP LEADER

Far from being a clean bill of health, the Independent Monitoring Commission's report reaffirms what we already know - that the Provisional IRA is riddled with illegality.

Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley said the IRA is riddled with illegality

Sinn Fein words have not been backed up by Provo inaction.

In terms of rioting, intelligence gathering, assaults, exiling and large scale crime, Sinn Fein/IRA has not turned its back on violence and criminality but is instead as involved in illegality as it has ever been.

This report dispels the nonsense suggested by government that ongoing IRA terror and criminality are the deeds of individuals acting without the say so of the Sinn Fein/IRA leadership.

SIR REG EMPEY, UUP LEADER

What this latest report shows is that while some progress has been made, republicans are still wedded to a failed ideology whose time has passed.

They cannot let go of crime or covert intelligence gathering.

When coupled with news of raids in the Republic linked to IRA money laundering, it is clear that they still have some way to go towards exclusively peaceful and democratic means.

For this reason it is imperative that we find the maximum amount of attainable devolution for the assembly. An immediate return to the Executive is just not on the political radar.

MARTIN MCGUINNESS, SINN FEIN

The IMC has no place in the political process. It is no part of the Good Friday Agreement.

Martin McGuiness
Martin McGuiness accused IMC of bias

It subverts the democratic mandate of all of the political parties but is specifically targeted at Sinn Féin.

The individuals who make up the IMC and the group collectively are hostile to Irish republicanism and are a proxy for political policing.

It is unacceptable that the entire political process is being held to ransom by these people.

ALBAN MAGINNESS, SDLP

This report shows real progress by the IRA in a number of areas but is deeply worrying in a number of others.

It confirms the IRA are still running spy rings for Sinn Fein's benefit. That is not on.

It only undermines trust and damages the Good Friday Agreement. It plays right into the hands of the DUP and those opposed to change.

How can you build trust if at the same time you are engaged in dirty tricks and spying? This has got to end as the IRA committed it would.

DAVID FORD, ALLIANCE PARTY

While considerable advances have been made, it is clear the republican movement has still some way to go before fully accepting exclusively peaceful and democratic means, and supporting and upholding the rule of law.

David Ford
David Ford said republican movement 'cannot have it both ways'

It is clear that IRA structures remain in place, and that there is formal leadership sanctioned activity that goes beyond the bounds of acceptable democratic behaviour.

Alliance firmly believes that any and all paramilitary activity is a threat to democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The republican movement cannot have it both ways.

DAVID LIDINGTON, CONSERVATIVE PARTY

We cannot gloss over the serious problems that remain unresolved.

The IMC says plainly that the Provisional IRA, including its senior members, is still heavily involved in serious organised crime.

PIRA is still gathering intelligence.

Exiling has not been lifted and community restorative justice is being used to maintain paramilitary control of local communities.

LEMBIT OPIK, LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

It does seem that old habits die hard.

They're still gaining intelligence, probably for political purposes rather than paramilitary ones, and the underlying organised crime seems to be carrying on as well.

Now those things really have to stop.


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