Irish Republican News · February 1, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Sceptical response to Ahern comments on sanctions

The Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is meeting the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, this afternoon in London to discuss the latest crisis in the peace process.

The meeting comes amid reports that the agency set up by the London and Dublin governments to prescribe sanctions against Sinn Féin is to act following allegations that the Provisional IRA was behind a Belfast bank raid by the end of the week.

The still unsupported allegations by the head of the PSNI police in the North have been endorsed by both governments. Sinn Féin has said it believes the IRA’s denial of involvement.

The IMC is viewed by republicans as a device to legitimise discrimination against Sinn Féin and a breach of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. Under British legislation, it has the power to recommend sanctions against Sinn Féin -- including fines and bans on participation in government -- based on intelligence reports by the British Crown forces.

The IMC has denied it is to bring forward its next report, due in April, despite a clear statement by Mr Ahern that a preliminary report is due by the end of next week, recommending new sanctions against Sinn Féin over the bank raid.

Mr Ahern has claimed he is not in favour of imposing sanctions against Sinn Féin even if recommended by the IMC. He said on Monday that he had urged the body not to recommend penalties against Sinn Féin in its report to be published next week.

Speaking in Dublin, the Taoiseach said: “I do not think the politics of exclusion or penalties will bring us forward. We have serious issues that we have to find resolutions for. I will positively work to try to find resolutions for those.”

But Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams today expressed doubt about whether the Irish Government is really opposed to sanctions against his party over the Northern Bank raid.

“The British Government is currently imposing sanctions against Sinn Féin,” the West Belfast MP said.

“Is the Taoiseach (Mr Ahern) demanding that this discrimination be ended?

“Not to my knowledge.

“The Irish Government joined with the British Government to form the so-called Independent Monitoring Commission and agreed to the British Secretary of State (Paul Murphy) being given powers outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

“I am unconvinced, therefore, about protestations of opposition to sanctions. Nationalists and republicans are understandably and increasingly sceptical of the attitude of the two Governments.”

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