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Farewell IMC

Mark Devenport | 15:13 UK time, Thursday, 4 November 2010

After 6 years in existence the Independent Monitoring Commission is being wound up. Initially it provided a fig leaf for David Trimble's Ulster Unionists and drew criticism from the DUP. But after the DUP became the dominant unionist party they treated the four strong IMC with greater regard. The IMC periodically fined Sinn Fein for not using their influence more over the IRA (similar action was taken against the fringe loyalist parties). Sinn Fein always objected to the body, and have now expressed satisfaction at its demise.

The recent report on the murder of Bobby Moffett illustrated the Commission's limitations - the IMC blamed the UVF but wasn't able to suggest any effective sanction.

Still it didn't always stick to the government's script - remember the time when General de Chastelain was insisting that the IRA had fully decommissioned, whilst the IMC reported that the Provisionals may have held on to a quantity of handguns.

The British and Irish governments acknowledge that there is "a continuing public interest in ensuring that the public are informed about the threat in Northern Ireland from terrorism. Once we have received and considered the IMC's final report, the British and Irish Governments will do what is necessary to ensure that that need is met". So it's not clear what if anything will replace the IMC, and as the period before its inception suggested, the NIO may in the future be very reluctant to bluntly proclaim that a group's ceasefire is over if such a statement is not deemed politically expedient.


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