The Provisional IRA’s ruling Army Council that once directed its armed struggle is no longer operational, a report for the British and 26-County governments has declared.
The so-called ‘Independent Monitoring Commission’ (IMC) added that the IRA has disbanded its military structures and relinquished the leadership necessary to wage war.
The official British acceptance that the Provisional IRA’s campaign is “well and truly over” emerged ahead of crucial talks between the DUP and Sinn Féin aimed at securing the future of the North’s power-sharing government.
Prior to the report’s publication, the DUP leader and Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson said his party would demand complete elimination of the Provisional IRA’s Army Council to secure political progress.
Today the brief IMC report said: “We are aware of the questions posed about the public disbandment of (Provisional Irish Republican Army’s) PIRA’s leadership structures.
“We believe that PIRA has chosen another method of bringing what it describes as its armed struggle to a final close.
“Under PIRA’s own rules the Army Council was the body that directed its military campaign.
“Now that that campaign is well and truly over, the Army Council by deliberate choice is no longer operational or functional.”
It added: “This situation has been brought about by a conscious decision to let it fall into disuse rather than through any other mechanism.”
“We now have a context where there are no longer the emotional drivers which caused the IRA to be resurrected in 1969 and the leadership which created and moulded the modern-day PIRA has turned its interest and attention exclusively to politics as the means of furthering its objectives.”
The report concluded: “The mechanism which they have chosen to bring the armed conflict to a complete end has been the standing down of the structures which engaged in the armed campaign and the conscious decision to allow the Army Council to fall into disuse.
“By taking these steps PIRA has completely relinquished the leadership and other structures appropriate to a time of armed conflict.”
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern said the report’s conclusions were “very positive”.
“This report demonstrates not only that PIRA has gone away, but that it won?t be coming back. The IMC could not have been more unequivocal in its conclusion that the provisional movement is now irreversibly locked into following the political path.”
British Direct Ruler Shaun Woodward said the report confirmed that the Provisional movement had met its commitments, stepping up the pressure on the DUP to accept the transfer of policing and justice powers and other elements of the 2006 St Andrew’s Agreement which have been stalled by the political stalement of the past four months.
There was no immediate comment on the development by the DUP or Sinn Féin.