The IRA has “changed radically” according to the body in charge of verifying paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland. The Independent Monitoring Commission has published a positive assessment of the IRA’s commitment made last year to end decades of violence.
Presenting the report, Commissioner Lord Alderdice outlined how the IRA leadership was “clamping down” on criminal activity by its members. The IMC also claims the paramilitary group does not want to go back to violence and no longer has the capacity to mount a sustained campaign.
Military structures, including departments responsible for procurement, engineering and training, have reportedly been disbanded. But the IMC noted that some individual IRA members are still involved in serious criminal activity for personal gain.
Nevertheless, the report will be used by the British and Irish prime ministers in talks with Northern Ireland’s political parties at a summit this month. “The IRA has done what we’ve asked it to do. While issues such as policing remain to be resolved, the door is now open to a final settlement which is why the talks in Scotland next week are so important,” Tony Blair told reporters.
That meeting will take place as a November 24 deadline looms for restoring the power-sharing government at Stormont. The Belfast-based political assembly was set up under the 1998 Good Friday deal between pro-British unionists and pro-Irish nationalists. But the assembly was suspended in 2002 amid a row over spying by the IRA and Unionist claims that the paramilitary group was still involved in criminal activity within the province.