• IMC has never visited West Belfast • Member hadn’t read the GFA before appointment
• They accept criticism over their handling of the Bobby Tohill assault affair

Richard Kerr, a member of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), admitted this week that the body has never visited West Belfast.

Mr Kerr, a former Deputy Director of the CIA, made the startling admission during a wide-ranging interview with the Andersonstown News, due to be published in next Monday’s edition (June 28).

During the remarkably frank interview, Mr Kerr said that he had never read the Good Friday Agreement before taking up his appointment and he accepted that the IMC is outside of the Agreement.

He revealed that he had signed the Official Secrets Act before taking up his position and he confirmed that he accesses “national security information”.
Mr Kerr also indicated that the IMC does not receive raw intelligence, but rather it receives reports and analysis – which members then assess.

According to Mr Kerr it is “a fair point” to criticise the IMC for devoting one full chapter of its first report to the Bobby Tohill affair and only one sentence to the killings of three people by loyalists.

During the interview, he accepted that the British and Irish governments “can use” the IMC in terms of the timing of reports.

And the leading international Intelligence figure admitted that the IMC had made mistakes – particularly in relation to a lack of careful language – and he conceded that he expects the body to make more mistakes in the future, due to the complexity of the issues being dealt with.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney

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