Weapons and security bodies are decommissioned

No inventory of the arms decommissioned by the Provisional IRA and loyalist paramilitaries is to be made public, the arms body which oversaw the process has announced in its final report.

The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD), under General John de Chastelain, said the results of the decommissioning process will be held by the US Department of State in Washington “for future historical accuracy”.

While unionist politicians have expressed anger at this move it was expected among government officials.

The IRA had agreed to cooperate with the decommissioning body only on the condition that the amount of material “put beyond use” would not be revealed.

It is understood that a detailed account of the arms handover could cause embarrassment for Sinn Fein and fuel support for breakaway groups.

In addition, the decommissioning acts carried out by the UVF and UDA remain shrouded in mystery.

The recent attempted pogrom by the UVF in east Belfast, which saw three people shot, underlined the difficult situation faced by the IICD in making its last report.

The widespread belief that a considerable amount of arms were retained by both the UDA and UVF could be confirmed if the weapons inventory were made public. Listing the details of what was decommissioned would reveal what was not handed over and increase tensions in the North.

In the final report of the commission, the commissioners stated that providing details of what arms were put beyond use could “encourage attacks on those groups which have taken risks for peace”. It added that it could also “deter groups that have decommissioned their arms from handing over any arms that may subsequently come to light”.

While there is no inventory in the final report, it does provide an account of decommissioning events, a summary of key factors that enabled the commission to deliver its objectives and highlights the lessons learnt.

There was some grumbling in the media over the IICD’s failure to hold a final press conference. Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister complained of a “decommissioning con job”.

First Minister Peter Robinson insisted the public had a right to know what arms had been handed over.

“It is vital that the public gets to see just how much terrorist weaponry has been decommissioned,” the DUP leader said.

“People will want to see just what has been achieved by the IICD in regard to putting the arsenal of illegal organisations beyond use.

“People will be naturally nervous that such arms are still in circulation and it is up to the government to justify their decision to abolish the body responsible for dealing with these issues.”

Meanwhile, Britain’s so-called ‘International Monitoring Commission’, which issued reports on IRA and loyalist paramilitary activity but served mainly as propaganda vehicle for the British intelligence services, has also been wound up.

The body had been widely condemned last year after it refused to accept that the UVF’s cold-blooded murder of Bobby Moffett amounted to a breach of that organisation’s professed ‘ceasefire’.

In its final report, the IMC absurdly made no reference to the resurgence of UVF paramilitary violence in east Belfast in recent weeks.

It described dissident republicans as “brutally active”, particularly against the PSNI, but said that it did not believe that there was the likelihood of a repeat of the worst years of the conflict.

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© 2011 Irish Republican News