::: u.tv :::

TUESDAY 06/01/2004 16:24:29 UTV
SF MLA slams monitoring body

A commission to monitor paramilitary activity and the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement will be used to validate British government moves to subvert democracy, it was claimed today.
By: Press Association

As the British and Irish governments prepared to formally give effect tomorrow to the four-member Independent Monitoring Commission, Sinn Fein Assembly Group leader Conor Murphy denounced the body, claiming its powers ``contradict democratic norms``.

The Newry and Armagh MLA also criticised London and Dublin for bringing the commission into being and holding back on other pledges in their joint declaration of last year, including the scaling down of the British Army presence in Northern Ireland.

He argued: ``The International Monitoring Commission (IMC) is outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

``It is ironic that the only aspect of the joint declaration which the two governments have advanced upon is the IMC.

``They have repeatedly failed to implement their commitments on policing, demilitarisation, human rights and equality, all of which are within the terms of the Agreement.

The four-member commission will report on the IRA and loyalist ceasefires every six months and scrutinise the government`s programme of demilitarisation.

It will also probe complaints about political tactics which undermine the stability of the political institutions during devolution.

Former Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker Lord Alderdice and John Grieve, a former head of the Metropolitan Police`s anti-terrorist squad were appointed by the British government to serve on the body.

Richard Kerr, a former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the United States and retired Irish civil servant Joe Brosnan will also take part.

Following unionist concerns, it was decided that only the British government`s nominees will examine how devolved ministers and Northern Ireland parties are honouring their commitments under the Good Friday Agreement.

Republicans have been fiercely critical of the body since it was proposed last May.

Mr Murphy said today: ``The legislation gives the power of exclusion to the British Secretary of State.

``Such powers contradict the democratic norms and the rights of the electorate. Indeed the British Secretary of State who has been given these powers is himself in breach of the Agreement by virtue of his refusal to lift the suspension of the political institutions.

``Successive British Secretaries of State have suspended the Assembly on four occasions, at the behest of unionism. Nobody should be in any doubt that the additional powers given to the British Secretary of State will be used similarly.

``The IMC reports will be based upon information supplied by securocrats. The IMC will be no more than a smokescreen to validate arbitrary acts of exclusion by the British Secretary of State.``

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