The 26th and final report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), prepared at the request of the British and Irish governments, has been published today by both governments. I am laying the report before Parliament.
The IMC was set up in 2004. The Commission’s remit was to independently monitor and report on paramilitary activities, on security normalisation, and any claims that any minister or party in the Northern Ireland Assembly was not committed to democratic means.
During the seven years over which the IMC carried out this role, the level and nature of paramilitary activity has changed significantly. Operation Banner was successfully completed and the political situation in Northern Ireland has been transformed with devolution now complete and the Northern Ireland Assembly entering its second term.
The IMC has played a significant part in supporting and enabling historic changes over theyears. Its independence has been vital in gaining the confidence of all those it worked with and is clearly illustrated in what they have delivered. I would like to place on record my deep gratitude to the IMC Commissioners and staff for their sustained commitment over the past seven years.
The Commission’s final report documents the changes that have taken place during this period and provides an assessment of the factors that helped it in delivering its remit and the lessons learnt. It is a valuable document which will be of interest to those who are, have been and continue to be involved in the peace and political process in Northern Ireland as well as to those who are involved in conflict transformation more widely. I am grateful to the IMC for its detailed and thorough report.
As the IMC themselves note, whilst the Commission has completed its remit, the security position In Northern Ireland is far from ideal. As the violence in a part of East Belfast recently revealed, there remain those who have rejected peace and politics and who actively work to undermine it. The Government remains committed to doing all it can to end violence and to enable all the people of Northern Ireland to live peacefully and safely as is their right. I am conscious that Parliament and the public will wish to be kept informed of progress on a regular basis. I therefore intend to make statements to Parliament every six months summarising the threat, in keeping with the timescales on which the IMC used to issue its reports.