Tuesday, May 24, 2005

IRA Watch

The savage murder of Robert McCartney is just the tip of the IRA's iceberg of criminality. The Associated Press explains:

The Irish Republican Army covered up a Belfast killing, is smuggling in new armaments and continues to recruit and train members how to use firearms and make bombs, an expert commission reported Tuesday.

The British and Irish governments welcomed the findings of the Independent Monitoring Commission, a four-man panel appointed three years ago to provide objective assessments on the activities of the IRA and several other illegal groups based in Northern Ireland. A Sinn Fein official said the commission was neither impartial nor credible.

Of course, considering that Sinn Fein is the IRA's political mouthpiece, I would argue that they are the ones who are "neither impartial nor credible". Anyway, the article goes on to summarize the report's main conclusions:

It found that the IRA and a half-dozen other paramilitary groups remained highly active from September 2004 to March. While the other groups have no significant political support, the IRA-linked Sinn Fein party represents most of Northern Ireland's Catholic minority, making continued IRA activity a huge political obstacle.

The commissioners, among them a former CIA deputy director, cited evidence that the IRA was smuggling in new weaponry in defiance of the 1998 accord's disarmament goals. The IRA was supposed to have scrapped all its armaments by mid-2000 but didn't start the process until late 2001 and halted it some two years later.

The report said police in September discovered 10,000 rounds of assault rifle ammunition in an IRA arms dump "of a type not previously found in Northern Ireland and manufactured since the Belfast agreement." These bullets, it said, "may have been only part of a larger consignment."

The IRA "continues to seek to maintain its medium-term effectiveness. It recruits and trains new members, including in the use of firearms and explosives. It continues to gather intelligence," the report said.

It said the IRA committed at least five shootings and six assaults since September and runs a range of criminal rackets such as smuggling fuel and cigarettes and bank robberies including the world-record theft in December of about $50 million from a Belfast bank. The IRA has denied involvement in the bank robbery.

You can read the full report for yourself on the Independent Monitoring Commission Web site (click on the "Fifth Report" link).

While the Protestant "loyalist" paramilitaries are just as violent and thuggish, the IRA is unique in terms of its resources, support base, and global connections. It is one of Europe's largest criminal enterprises, and has even established links to Colombia's narcoterrorist FARC organization. The IRA, and its "loyalist" counterparts, must be disarmed if there is to be peace in Northern Ireland.


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