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Shoddy and flimsy report

(Editorial, Irelandclick.com)

In any normal society the Independent Monitoring Commission would have been laughed off the political stage by now given the embarrassing mish-mash of speculation, views and opinions that they have produced – and the glaring paucity of evidence.

But it is clear that the IMC is doing exactly the job that those unionists who pressed for its creation wanted it to do: put political progress on the long finger and deprive the nationalist and republican people of the North of their democratic rights.

Yesterday's (Wednesday) eighth IMC report would stand up to even the most cursory inspection by a first year law student. No-one here has ever seen hide nor hair of any of the four IMC members, because they don't get their information on republicans from republican heartlands like West Belfast or South Armagh, they get it from the very British spooks whose number one enemy is... republicans.

Take what is perhaps the IMC's most startling 'finding' – that the IRA has not in fact decommissioned all its weapons. We urge readers to look closely at the report themselves and judge how much weight to put on the IMC's words. They will quickly find that the IMC itself does not even claim to make a categoric finding on IRA weapons. It says only that it has received "reports" that the IRA had held on to weapons, and further adds that those reports have not been confirmed.

If the baseless musings of four old men with zero knowledge or experience of republican Ireland were to be put in a file and left to gather dust, that wouldn't be so bad. But it is as if the IMC is speaking ex-cathedra, that the report is the full and untarnished truth. The fact that it is a flimsy and shoddy piece of work is being ignored in the hysterical debate which has followed yesterday's publication.

The correct response to this report is not to debate its contents, it is to chuck it in the bin and tell those who are waving it in the air to come back when they have something real and substantial.

The attack on local CRJ schemes, meanwhile, was not only unfair and uncalled-for, but dangerous in the extreme in the present climate as loyalist paramilitaries remain armed and actively targeting nationalists – as the IMC itself claims (and we'll agree with them on that one, not because they tell us, but because we've seen the evidence for ourselves).

And check out the hilarious bit on alleged republican intelligence-gathering which the IMC says it "believes" is continuing. What the beliefs of the IMC have to do with anything is beyond us.

We urge our political representatives to continue to focus on the essential vacuity of the report and its contents and not get dragged into spurious debates about decommissioning and intelligence-gathering on the back of it.

February 4, 2006

This article appeared first on the Irelandclick.com web site on February 2, 2006.