Subscribe to the Irish News




Book Reviews
& Book Forum

Search / Archive
Back to 10/96





IMC is nothing more than a tool of the NIO

(Brian Feeney, Irish News)

You’ve heard the one about the so-called ‘best shot in the West’? He was spotted one day blazing away randomly at some fence posts, drilling holes in the ones he hit.

‘How does that make him the best shot in the West?', they asked his agent. ‘Ah well you see', sez the agent, ‘we wait until he's finished shooting and then we paint targets round the holes. That way he's spot on every time.'

In other words, it's just like the so-called Independent Monitoring Commission, except in the case of the IMC the British administration even tells them what to shoot at.

Examine last week's report.

As you'd expect, it's the same standard as the first one: a mix of carelessness, pomposity, arrogance and toe-curling subservience to their masters in the NIO.

Carelessness: on page 48 read about the ‘PSNI, a force that has taken very significant casualties over the years'.

So Sinn Fein is right, then, the PSNI is the RUC because the PSNI hasn't taken any casualties. Injuries yes, in the odd riot, but casualties no.

At no point in the whole report do our querulous quartet dare to question the good faith of the British administration or the notoriously obstructive Ministry of Defence.

No, they wear their straitjacket with pride. According to their worm's eye view of their remit, all they can do is make a list of what the Ministry of Defence tells them they have dismantled since 1999 and how many troops have been relocated. And here's the joke: they believe them.

The IMC could have pushed the boat out a bit. They do admit that ‘normalisation' refers to more than just dismantling army posts and so on. For people in nationalist areas, it also means the removal of fortifications from police barracks and some barracks.

They could have listed that. But no, it doesn't say that in Article Five of the legislation they hide behind, but equally it doesn't say they can't list the removal.

Instead, they say it's not their business, that's the Patten Oversight Commissioner's bag.

It's that sort of report.

The fact is that a decade after the first IRA ceasefire, the rate of removal of unsightly, mouldering, redundant scaffolding poles, corrugated iron, caged sangars and other even more gigantic monstrosities from nationalist districts has been glacial.

Still, only Catholics live there.

They say the number of complaints about the army remain substantial and there is ‘insufficient accountability for intelligence operations conducted by the army'.

Ah, but that's for the guy who deals with complaints about the army.

In fact, of course there shouldn't be any independent intelligence ops by the British army.

They're all supposed to be under the auspices of the PSNI, and if not, why not? Is the PSNI not accountable? Certainly not to the IMC it would seem.

Where do these complaints come from? Who lives where the army pollutes the environment with observation posts, helicopters, patrols and so on? Nationalists. Where has most of the violence come from since the Good Friday Agreement? Unionists.

In their usual coy way, the IMC points out there have been ‘no terrorist-related deaths of security forces since 1998'. They never say that last death was RUC Constable O'Reilly, killed by a loyalist bomb at Drumcree in October 1998.

Yet although loyalist violence against their own community and isolated Catholics continues unabated, 12,000 troops are targeted at nationalists.

By the way, buried in the IMC figures you will find the number of troops has only gone down 2,234 since December 1999, but has actually increased by 196 from January to May this year.

Included in those 12,000 are the completely unacceptable, 100 per cent unionist, RIR.

Of course they're not mentioned in the report, despite being a major problem for this society.

At no stage does the IMC question whether it is appropriate to have a native regiment recruited from one community here, never mind ask when it is going to be disbanded, its barracks closed.

The final two points are these.

The IMC keeps referring to ‘the assessment of the paramilitary threat'. Yet the NIO won't tell them what it is or the process for making the assessment.

Even so, these guys produce a list, for that is all it is, and poke their noses into all kinds of matters before reporting in each case that they have no remit to examine it. Subservient or what?

More than anyone else, it matters to nationalists who have lived in occupied districts for 35 years that the military go and civilian policing arrives. So far the IMC looks like an NIO tool to stop that happening. Yet Dublin has a man on it.

July 30, 2004

This article appeared first in the July 28, 2004 edition of the Irish News.

This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News