Oversight body to monitor efforts to end paramilitarism as Bill passes in Dáil

Flanagan says Bill will play ‘important role in having a normalised society in the North’

Charlie Flanagan expressed his disappointment at the North’s parties’ failure to establish an Executive.  Photograph: Eric Luke

Charlie Flanagan expressed his disappointment at the North’s parties’ failure to establish an Executive. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Efforts to deal with paramilitarism in the North will intensify following the passage of legislation to set up a monitoring body to oversee measures aimed at ending such activity.

The Independent Reporting Commission Bill passed all stages in the Dáil on Friday and is expected to be passed by the Seanad next week.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan told the Dáil the Bill would play “an important role in the ongoing framework of political engagement and the process of reconciliation towards the goal of having a normalised society in Northern Ireland and across the island of Ireland”.

The proposal for a monitoring body arose from the Fresh Start agreement in November 2015, which provided a roadmap for the implementation of the agreement the previous year - the Stormont House agreement - which included a strategic approach to end paramilitarism and tackle organised crime, particularly cross-border crime.

One of its commitments aimed to achieve a society free of paramilitarism and to work towards the disbandment of all paramilitary organisations and their structures and to challenge paramilitary attempts to control communities.

Mr Flanagan expressed his disappointment at the Northern Ireland parties’ failure to establish an Executive but believed “there are good grounds for optimism”.

Fianna Fáil chair of the foreign affairs committee Brendan Smith expressed concern that Northern Secretary James Brokenshire said he would have to make decisions on the North’s budget.

And he appealed to both governments and particularly to Sinn Féin and the DUP to deal with the outstanding issues and form an Executive.

Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh said every dialogue should be “as constructive as possible instead of squeaking from the sidelines, to try and ensure progress is made”.

He said it was a pity that many of the promises in previous agreements had not been delivered as quickly as this one.