Sunday Business Post

McDowell: IRA crime has ended in Republic

19 December 2004 By Barry O'Kelly
Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has said the IRA has ceased criminal activity in the Republic.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Sunday Business Post, McDowell said IRA criminal activity in the Republic “has now stopped as far as I know in the run-up to this particular set of negotiations'‘.

The minister receives regular security briefings from Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy.

“It is very significant. It shows they can do without that method of fundraising,” the minister said.

“There has been a number of incidents involving a number of IRA members, [but] none of it qualifies as major crime and I am not in a position to answer the question about whether the small stuff is authorised or not.”

McDowell said the IRA had stood down its Dublin Brigade, and a number of its members were shot for extracting money from criminals last year.

“After that, it took over direct management of the ‘funding' through its Belfast Brigade.’' However, the minister said the Provisionals remained active in the North.

“Near the border, any tanker passing up a particular road has to pay a stg£400 tax to certain individuals, members of the IRA,” he said.

The minister indicated that he was still prepared to accept the release of the four IRA men convicted of the manslaughter of Detective Jerry McCabe in certain circumstances. McDowell still hopes that the political deadlock in the North can be broken. He believes that the reported sensitivity of the republican movement to photographs of its destroyed arsenal has been exaggerated.

He said: “The argument I am making is this: get off the stage in relation to sensitive issues and how things might look. An Phoblacht will have all the photos it wants of the security towers coming down.

“You will not see Ian Paisley saying that you are humiliating the Protestant people of Northern Ireland when that happens. I do not think that the IRA army council is a group of very sensitive people.”

Separately, McDowell is to set up a new immigration agency which will break the logjam in applications for immigrant work permits.

A “Labour Force 2004'‘ survey published last Tuesday by the Chambers of Commerce in Ireland found that the processing of work permits is a problem for almost a quarter of all businesses.

McDowell described the delays in immigration cases as unacceptable. Under his plan, “the idea is that if you are coming to work in Ireland, a single agency will handle your visa, your leave to remain here and capacity to be employed here, and the issues concerning your spouse and children.

“So a single decision is made by one agency.

“It would be based in the Department of Justice and deal with all of the issues concerning immigration, visas and naturalisation. We would have to agree arrangements with the relevant departments - the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

“Foreign Affairs deal with visas, Enterprise deal with work permits. We want a single, unified policy approach on all of these matters. I would very much hope that this would speed up the immigration decision-making process.

“The delays in this area at present are unacceptable.”

In addition, he is working on the draft of a new Immigration and Naturalisation Bill which will deal with policy issues.

Under the present system, a permit is granted to a non-national from outside the EU who has a specific job lined up with a specific employer.

McDowell wants to introduce significant amendments to it.

“It should be varied so that people who come in on that basis have freedom of movement in the job market after some period of time. They should be allowed to shift from one employment to another.

“Immigrants with permits are currently not allowed to move jobs,” he said.

The minister also wants to give the spouses of immigrants the right to work. Under the present policy, the wife or husband of an immigrant is allowed to live with them in Ireland but is not allowed to work here.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?