§ The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos)
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:
On 3 February 2004 I received a report from the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), made under Articles 4 and 7 of the international agreement that established the commission.
The report covers the robbery at the headquarters of the Northern Bank in Belfast on 20 December 2004 and puts it into the context of what the commission believes are related incidents. It was submitted to the British and Irish Governments under Article 4c of the agreement, which enables the commission to report on an ad hoc basis. Having considered the contents of the report, I am today putting it before Parliament and I have placed copies in the Libraries of both Houses.
The IMC report concludes that the Northern Bank robbery was planned and undertaken by the Provisional IRA. The commission also concludes that PIRA was responsible for a number of other robberies which are listed in the report. The IMC concludes that Sinn Fein must bear its share of responsibility for the incidents mentioned in the report.
The commission has said that if the Northern Ireland Assembly was now sitting, it would be recommending the implementation of the full range of measures referred to in the relevant legislation including the exclusion of members of Sinn Fein from holding political office. In the context of suspension it recommends that I should consider exercising the powers I have to apply financial penalties to Sinn Fein.
I am grateful to the commission for its timely submission of this report and for its careful analysis. I shall now consider carefully the commission's recommendations. I plan to make a further Statement to the House in the week of 21 February.