What today’s report tells us about paramilitary groups

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Today’s report into paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland contains numerous revelations about the major groups on ceasefire. Here are some of the key revelations:

l Now 17 years after the Belfast Agreement, all the main Troubles paramilitary groups remain in existence. That includes the UVF, Red Hand Commando, UDA, IRA and INLA. The report deals with these groups who are on ceasefire, not dissident republicans.

l None of the groups is planning or conducting terrorist attacks.

l “Most” members of the Provisional IRA (PIRA) have nothing to do with dissident republican paramilitary groups.

l Members of all the major paramilitary groups on ceasefire have murdered since the Agreement.

l Although most weapons were decommissioned, “some were not” and individual paramilitaries have “since procured small numbers of firearms”.

l The “existence and cohesion of these paramilitary groups since their ceasefires has played an important role in enabling the transition from extreme violence to political progress”.

l The UVF’s structures remain and “there are some indications of recruitment”. It continues to have access to “some weapons” but the leadership has tried to steer its members towards “peaceful initiatives”.

l A “very small number” of UVF members have taken active roles in the PUP. A larger number, including some senior figures, “are extensively involved in organised crime including drug smuggling, extortion and smuggling”.

l The UDA’s structures are increasingly fragmented and there are some indications of recruitment. The previous UFF front no longer exists. The UDA continues to have access to guns.

l A “very small number” of UDA members have taken roles in its political wing, the UPRG. But some members, and some senior members, remain involved in drug dealing, robbery, extortion and the distribution of counterfeit and contraband goods.

l A number of members of the UVF and UDA have been involved in riots, with some UVF members orchestrating riots.

l The LVF exists only as a criminal group in Antrim and mid-Ulster.

l The PIRA structures remain in a “much reduced form”, including a senior leadership, the Army Council, and some unspecified departments with “specific responsibilities”. It is not believed to be recruiting.

l PIRA members believe that the Army Council “oversees both PIRA and Sinn Fein with an overarching strategy. We judge this strategy has a wholly political focus. PIRA members have been directed to actively support Sinn Fein within the community including activity like electioneering and leafleting”.

l Despite decommissioning, the IRA “continues to have access to some weapons” but had not procured new weapons since 2011. Some members store weapons to keep them from reaching dissidents.

l Some IRA members are involved in “gathering information”, including intelligence on dissidents and the identification of agents.

l IRA members remain involved in criminality, including large-scale smuggling, and have been involved in murder.

l The IRA is not involved in targeting or conducting terrorist attacks against the state.

l The INLA has little centralised control; evidence suggests it is recruiting, has access to weapons and is “heavily involved in criminality”. There is some cooperation between INLA members and dissidents.

l The paramilitary groups in the report “continue to pose a threat to national security and engage in serious crime”.