Irish Republican News · October 20, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: SANCTIONS LIFTED
SANCTIONS LIFTED

The British government has ended financial sanctions against Sinn Féin following the publication of a British intelligence report on IRA and unionist paramilitary activity.

Sinn Féin representatives in the Belfast Assembly and London parliament had their allocated funding withdrawn after a previous report by the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC).

Sinn Féin has long railed against the increasingly severe sanctions imposed on the party, viewing the sanctions as politically-motivated discrimination.

However, the IMC said it accepted that the Provisional IRA is winding down following its unilateral peace initiative this summer. On July 28th, the IRA formally ordered an end to its armed campaign and all IRA units were ordered to dump their weapons and follow “purely political and democratic programmes”. On September 26th, it was confirmed that the IRA had disposed of all of its arms.

Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey said: “Sanctions against Sinn Féin are undemocratic and motivated by a desire to prevent the further development of the party and prevent further electoral advances. They are unacceptable and should be removed.

“Sinn Féin will continue to oppose the role being played by the IMC and the political cover it seeks to give to the British government to discriminate against Irish political parties and their electorates.”

In today’s report, the IMC said there was no evidence of training or recruitment after the 28 July statement, and there were indications that IRA intelligence remained active but that its focus “may be becoming more political”.

It said the IRA had wanted the Protestant marching season to pass without civil disorder and that it had tried to stop rioting by nationalists.

Despite the IMC’s acceptance that the IRA has stuck to the terms of its historic declaration, 26-COunty Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern and British Direct Ruler Peter Hain said “more time” was needed to “build confidence”.

They agreed that the IRA declaration had been a “sea change” but that unionist resistance was understandable and more was needed.

Peter Hain said another report by the IMC in January would be “an absolutely critical benchmark of where we are”.

“There is movement in the right direction. There is more to be done, nevertheless there are positive signs of progress,” Mr Ahern said.

UVF GET OFF

The British government has been accused of employing “breathtaking double standards” after it emerged that the UVF-aligned Progressive Unionist Party is still receiving official funding.

Both Sinn Féin and the PUP lost funding last year after the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) said that activity by the IRA and UVF was still ongoing.

In April Sinn Féin’s fine was renewed but the PUP’s grant of #27,000 for its one assembly member, David Ervine, was restored.

A month later the IMC said that the loyalist party should have its funding blocked again but the government decided to consult on the matter.

It has emerged that PUP funding has continued since then, despite the monitoring commission reporting last month that the UVF had been linked to five murders and 15 attempted murders.

Sinn Féin councillor Alex Maskey said the revelation confirmed its view that the IMC was a tool to be employed primarily against Sinn Féin.

“The demonstration of double standards exposes the bad faith of the British government and an inherent pro-loyalist bias within the British system,” he said.

This week, the IMC noted unionist paramilitaries were responsible for all five murders and most of the other conflict-related violence in the North over the relevant six-month period.

The SDLP has blasted the 26-County Prime Minister over his views on the UVF. Bertie Ahern said last weekend that loyalists need “space and encouragement” to come to a decision to end violence.

But the SDLP’s justice spokesperson, Alban Maginness, says unionist paramilitaries have had plenty of time to consider this and in reality they want the Irish and British governments to turn a blind eye to their activities.

Mr Maginness said UVF members must be given an ultimatum of politics or jail.

* A petrol-bomb attack on a house in County Antrim on Tuesday described as “nothing more than anti-Catholic”.

A 54-year-old woman was sitting in the living room of the house at Cushendall Road in Ballymena when the device was thrown through the window at around 1.20am.

Another petrol-bomb attack also took place early on Tuesday on a house in the Deramore area of Ballymena.

* Hardline unionists plan to put 30,000 people on the streets of Belfast on Saturday week, it has been confirmed. Organisers have applied for permission to mount one of the biggest rallies in the city since the Anti-Anglo Irish Agreement protest of 1985.

The route, which has been submitted to the Parades Commission, takes marchers through the Shankill Road through Woodvale Road and Woodvale Park, which is near an interface with the republican Ardoyne area.

* The Real IRA is believed to have left two devices near the RUC police club at Newforge Lane, off the Malone Road, earlier this week. Both were described as “viable” and were defused by British Army experts.

© 2005 Irish Republican News