Friday, October 21, 2005

Patronizing report

Maria McCourt:

The latest report of the Independent Monitoring Commission says exactly what everyone expected it to — that the IRA has done just what it said it would do. Nearly. With the patronising tone so beloved of the men who draw up these reports, the commission says the IRA’s move away from violence is showing “encouraging signs”.

There are a few of the usual meaningless attempts to affect insider knowledge by reference to some incidents whispered out of the side of the mouth of some spook in a back room. Having rejected the commission in the past as a convenient conduit for untrustworthy British intelligence, we are not going to turn round now and welcome its latest guardedly positive report.

Instead, we reiterate our contention that it is unsustainable that political progress on this island should effectively be in the hands of a number of elderly men in suits who are making life-and-death rulings on the basis of secret briefings, most of them from the agents of the British state in Ireland.

Of course, yesterday’s statement is far from the end of the matter. There is another hoop for republicans to jump through in the shape of another commission report in January. Justice minister Michael McDowell says that report “will provide a greater test over a longer period of the extent to which the Provisional movement has abandoned criminality in all its forms”. Presumably the report after that will provide an even greater test, and the one after that…

The decision to restore moneys payable to Sinn Féin MPs is the reversal of a decision that should never have been made in the first place. Republicans in the North have long since learned to stop saying “thanks, guv” for something that is theirs in the first place.

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