Failure to disband IRA army council could block progress - DUP

 

Failure to disband the IRA’s ruling army council could block further political progress in Northern Ireland, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Peter Robinson warned today.

Mr Robinson warned that its continued presence would be viewed by unionists as a threat.

He made his comments ahead of a meeting with the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) which is compiling a report on the status of the army council.

Asked if he would be satisfied with an IMC ruling that the group posed no threat, Mr Robinson said: “Its existence is a threat.”

The IRA decommissioned its weapons in 2005, while its members have been ordered to end all violence.

But unionists remained concerned at the continued existence of its leadership structure.

The IMC is expected to pass its report to both Governments next week, at which time the DUP and Sinn Féin are expected to hold talks on the future of the Northern Ireland Government.

Earlier this week, the First Minister warned of "serious consequences" if the Northern Executive, which has not met over the summer, is not convened by mid-September.

Mr Robinson set his three-week deadline in response to a warning by Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin that Sinn Féin would walk out of the Executive if policing and justice powers were not transferred to the Executive.

He refused to spell out what the consequences would be, but his remarks about pledges of office seem to indicate that he would take legal action against Sinn Féin Ministers if they continued to use their veto to block meetings of the Executive, which has not met since mid-June.

This could include charging the IMC to decide whether Sinn Féin Ministers were in breach of their ministerial commitments.

The East Belfast MP said he was not bound to any devolution date and will only agree to the move when there is significant community confidence and proof the IRA army council has been disbanded.