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Name names, SDLP warns monitor body

(William Graham, Irish News)

The SDLP has urged the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) to name paramilitary organisations involved in serious crime.

An SDLP delegation, including Alex Attwood and Alban Maginness, had talks with the IMC yesterday.

Mr Attwood said it should not back off in any way from dealing with the issue of criminality.

The party asked that where it could link a paramilitary organisation to a serious crime, and to organised crime, it should do so.

Mr Attwood said: "We urged the IMC to ensure that on the issue of building fraud and racketeering that they began to develop the ground around that issue, which is a threat to business and employment in many parts of the community in the north."

He said recent events had proved that paramilitary organisations and individuals were deeply involved in organised crime.

"This is across the board. It extends across the range of republican and loyalist organisations," he said.

"We said to the IMC that people across the north are increasingly recognising that this organised crime is now a serious threat to Northern Ireland society and the nature of Irish democracy.

"We believe they should name the organisations involved in serious crime over the last six months.

"Name those who are involved in organised crime when it comes to drugs, when it comes to raids at shops, and when it comes to smuggling across the border. Let the truth be known if the IMC can stand over it."

Asked about a prediction in the Irish Examiner newspaper that the IRA could be 'stood down' by next March, Mr Attwood said: "The standards against which the IRA are judged are very clear – that there is an end of all paramilitary activity; an end of intelligence gathering and recruitment and training; and that all of the IRA's weapons are disposed of.

"Those are the standards which are in the public domain and against which the IRA will be judged. Whether or not they do or do not stand down, the tests are clear.

"Ten years after the ceasefire and six years after the agreement, the IRA have yet to satisfactorily stand up against those standards. It is past time that they did so, and that the loyalist organisations did so as well."

At the same time, Mr Attwood said the party pressed the IMC to take further steps to ensure that the British government did more to 'normalise' Northern Ireland, reduce army numbers and close military bases.

He suggested that 80% of normalisation should happen independent of whether or not the IRA steps up to the mark on acts of completion.

A report from the IMC on paramilitarism is due to be forwarded to the British and Irish governments within the next few days.

Mr Attwood said he hoped the IRA, the UDA and the full range of republican and loyalist organisations were beginning to fade away, as this was the only message people wanted to hear.

October 24, 2004

This article appeared first in the October 23, 2004 edition of the Irish News.

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