David Ford stated: “From this latest IMC Report, it seems clear that the IRA leadership is adhering to the commitments made in the statement in July last year. Not only has the IRA ceased to pose a terrorist threat to the state, but it is acting to cease those activities which are a threat to the community. It is particularly noteworthy that parts of the IRA’s structures have been dismantled.
“Focus must now shift to issues in the political arena. In particular, what will be the degree of commitment from Sinn Fein, and indeed all other parties, to the rule of law and recognising the exclusive legitimacy of the PSNI. We also need to see what improvements can be made to the sanctions regime in the Assembly, to give broader assurance to the community that any breaches of commitments will be handled effectively.
“Over the past few years, the IMC has built up considerable credibility in describing what it sees. The reports of the IMC are accepted as accurate. This is a significant advance on the previous approach, where the suspicion was that Governments suppressed some hard realities for political expediency, and parties were forced to make their judgements based upon rumour and innuendo.
“However, the IMC report does not answer the political questions. Intelligence reports are there to guide decision-makers. Most intelligence reports by their very nature contain some caveats. Sound judgement, based on an honest analysis of the risks, is required.
“The ball is now firmly in the DUP’s court. While this report does not give a perfect verdict on the IRA, the DUP leadership must now ask themselves how realistic it is to chase perfection. There is a law of diminishing returns in how much further reports of this kind can go.
“Politics often involves a leap of faith. After so much progress, the DUP must consider the risk of chasing perfection against the risk of passing up the opportunity for devolution.”