Northern Ireland

£100,000 'found in dissident republican house' says IMC

Newtownhamilton bomb scene
Image caption The report discussed dissident republican activity

A report into paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland has revealed that police found £100,000 in a County Armagh house being used by dissident republicans.

The details are in an Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) report.

On Thursday the British and Irish governments announced on that the commission will stop its work after its next report.

The IMC was set up six years ago to monitor paramilitary groups in NI.

The latest report covers the six-month period from March to August this year and is the 25th report by the IMC.

The report said that in May, the police discovered £100,000 in a house in Lurgan which the IMC said they believe "was meant for dissident use".

The report notes that the threat from dissident republican groups is said to be "substantial" given the range and frequency of their violence in the past six months.

The number of improvised explosive devices used by dissidents has doubled compared to last year. And four times as many have detonated.

The IMC said: "Of the groups the two factions of RIRA (Real IRA) especially Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH), were by far the most active and dangerous.

Close co-operation

"It is however essential to keep things in perspective. It remains our view, as we said in our report six months ago, that in terms of weapons, money, personnel and support, the present dissident campaign in no way matches the range and tempo of the PIRA campaign of the Troubles.

"The high level of dissident activity would undoubtedly have led to many more deaths, injuries and destruction had it not been for the operations of the law enforcement and security agencies north and south and their ever close cross-border co-operation.

"In the north and south combined, some three times the number of dissidents have been charged with terrorist offences including membership, from January to October 2010 as in the whole of 2009, and the number of arrests nearly doubled."

The report also said that dissidents have been:

  • training new members in a variety of skills, including bomb-making
  • recruiting new members, mostly young males
  • seeking to acquire more weapons

The latest analysis gives a positive report of the IRA and said that rather than being involved in violence it has been trying to stop it.

The IMC notes the efforts of senior figures in the republican movement to try to control the disorder which took place in north Belfast during the Twelfth of July parades this year.

In terms of loyalist groups, the IMC found that the UDA has continued recruitment even though it remains committed to the peace process.

Continued activity

The report states: "We are aware of attempts to justify this on the basis that it would be better to draw such people in than to leave them outside the organisation, where they might be attracted to other loyalist affiliations.

"However, any recruitment to the UDA is inconsistent with an organisation which is going out of business as a paramilitary group."

As for the UVF, there is evidence of some continued paramilitary activity.

The report states: "During the period under review we believe that there has been some gathering of intelligence about people believed to be dissident republicans and that this has been with the sanction of the leadership.

"Some members have discussed the acquisition of weapons, though this is without sanction and not part of any plan."

The next IMC report is due to be released in the spring of next year and will be its last.

Speaking on Thursday, IMC member Lord Alderdice said: "From our point of view, particularly after the devolution of policing and justice, it seems to me that it's a perfectly natural thing for people to close down all of those non-permanent components of the peace process, of which we have been one."

Secretary of State Owen Paterson paid tribute to the work of the IMC.

"The IMC has played a crucial part in supporting and enabling the historic changes that we have seen in Northern Ireland over nearly 20 years," he said.

"Although there remain those who have rejected peace and politics and who actively work to undermine it, Northern Ireland has made the transition to stable, local democracy and the job of the IMC is nearing completion."

The Irish Justice Minister, Dermot Ahern, also paid tribute to the IMC for "carrying out its function in an exemplary manner".

Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Shaun Woodward backed the government decision to close down the monitoring group and praised the IMC's role "in helping secure greater stability".

Sinn Fein assembly member John O'Dowd said the decision to do away with the IMC "was long overdue".

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