An Alliance Party delegation today met with the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, to discuss the Alliance Party’s ten benchmarks for analysing any fresh IRA statement and how the Government intends to assess it.
Speaking after the meeting, Alliance Party Leader David Ford stated:
“Alliance has urged the Government to be realistic in responding to any new IRA statement, and to avoid giving a knee-jerk welcome out of an understandable desire to get a Talks process underway again.
“The Government needs to be objective in assessing its meaning, implications and subsequent actions against a series of benchmarks. The Independent Monitoring Commission should play a significant role in providing the detailed assessments to these issues.
“We made it clear that if any meaningful progress is to occur, it must do so on the solid foundation of a shared respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
“In the past, there has been a stop-start process, due in part to either insufficient or ambiguous commitments from the IRA. Northern Ireland cannot afford to go down this road again. If the political process is not restored on a firm basis, it will prove to be unsustainable again.
“It was for these reasons that Alliance proposed a series of ten benchmarks. These were not intended to be definitive but to set in train a debate whereby the Two Governments and other parties could reach some type of consensus on the comprehensive commitments required from Republicans.
“Our proposals are based on the simple premise that all who engage in politics should clearly demonstrate that they have no connection with ongoing paramilitary or criminal activity and that they have put the past behind them.
“It is now absolutely crucial that the Government commits itself to their own series of benchmarks for assessing any new commitments from the IRA if the wider community is to have confidence that any future political process is based on integrity, and is sustainable.
“The specifics of what is to be required do need to be spelt out, lest their be no misunderstanding of what is now required. Seven years on from the Good Friday Agreement, the time for any turning of blind-eyes or constructive ambiguity has long since passed.”
The Alliance Party’s ten benchmarks for assessing the IRA statement are:
1. The IRA must declare an end to all involvement in any paramilitary and criminal activity, and through exclusively lawful means ensure that their
activists desist immediately.
2. Where individual Republicans are involved in paramilitary or criminal activity, others must pass on any information to the lawful authorities
and urge others to do likewise. The IRA must accept that obstruction of justice is a crime.
3. The Republican movement must accept the full legitimacy of both the northern and southern states with respect to policing and criminal justice, including definitions of what constitutes a crime.
4. All IRA ‘front’ organisations and organised crime networks must be dismantled.
5. The IRA ‘Army Council’ must end all recruitment, training and intelligence gathering, and stand down all its rank and file members. Once
this is carried out and weapons are decommissioned, the organisation, including all command structures, must disband.
6. The Republican movement must renounce the right to engage in ‘community policing’ or to engage in what is termed ‘internal housekeeping’. There must be an end to all paramilitary beating and shootings.
7. The practice of ‘exiling’– both inside and outside Northern Ireland — must come to an end. Crucially, assurances must be given to those ‘exiled’ that they can return to Northern Ireland in safety and these assurances must be carried through.
8. All illegally held weapons and explosives must be decommissioned under the aegis of the Decommissioning Commission.
9. Republicans must co-operate fully with the Commission for the Disappeared, and both police services in recovering the remains of ‘the
10. Republicans must give a commitment not to export their terrorist techniques and expertise to other organisations internationally, either through direct training or other consultancy services, in line with the Terrorism Act (2000).