Community reponse to Commission report

Community organisations throughout Belfast were last night preparing to convene an urgent meeting at the offices of Falls Community Council in order to agree an organised response following widespread fury within the nationalist community at this week’s Independent Monitoring Commission’s (IMC) report.

In a move that sent shockwaves of suspicion and anger throughout the nationalist community, the IMC report – published on Tuesday – resurrected the spectre of Douglas Hurd’s failed “political vetting” policy, first introduced in 1985 to withhold public funds from community organisations at the discretion of security officials in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO).

In his capacity as Secretary of State, Hurd told the Westminster parliament on June 27, 1985, that public funding would thereafter be withheld from “community groups” which have “sufficiently close links with paramilitary organisations … (which) …would have the effect of improving their standing and furthering the aims of paramilitary organisations”.

This week, almost twenty years later and with the lesson of public funding being withheld from Sinn Fein, the IMC report recommends that “no organisation, statutory, commercial or voluntary, should tolerate links with paramilitary groups or give legitimacy to them”.

“In particular, societies and other similar organisations should make every effort to satisfy themselves that none of their members are linked to paramilitary groups.”

The IMC states that “this whole issue” will be examined in future reports.
Leading community workers in West Belfast yesterday were said to be “furious” and “suspicious” over this development.

And last night it emerged that a broad meeting of community organisations from throughout the city is being convened to focus on this issue in the Falls Community Council’s offices on Monday afternoon at 2.30pm.

Meanwhile, the SDLP has warmly welcomed the IMC report.

“The SDLP welcomes the IMC report. The report sets out the truth.
It details the facts,” said leader Mark Durkan.

“Paramilitary activity means beating people up. It means ripping people off.
“It even helped bring our democratic institutions of government down,” he said.

Blasting the SDLP position, Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy accused the party of “supporting the British government in discriminating against the majority of nationalists in the six counties who now vote for Sinn Fein.

"The fact is that the IMC is the mouthpiece of the securocrats who have time and again sought to damage this process.

“The body is not independent and it has no credibility within the broad nationalist and republican community which is angered by the content of the IMC Report,” said Mr Murphy.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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