On April 20, 2004, Paul Murphy, Secretary of State of Northern Ireland, announced that the International Monitoring Commission (IMC) had recommended monetary sanctions upon Sinn Féin for the alleged abduction of a dissident Republican by the IRA and on the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) for its connection to the Ulster Volunteer Force, a loyalist paramilitary group.
Angry Sinn Féin leaders called the report “scurrilous” and vowed to fight the fines.
The IMC recommended that £120,000 be taken from Sinn Féin’s allotted Assembly allowance. The IMC also recommended that £27,000 be taken from the much smaller PUP, whose Assembly member, David Ervine, vowed “never again to meet with the IMC.”
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that the IMC was “in clear breach of the Good Friday Agreement.”
The IMC was created by the British and Irish governments — independent of the Good Friday Agreement — at the request of Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble. The IMC concluded that expulsion from the Assembly was the preferred punishment for Sinn Féin and the PUP, but because the power-sharing government is suspended, the financial sanctions were the next best option.
Ironically, Sinn Féin and the PUP are the two parties who are pro-Agreement. The Ulster Defense Association, which is responsible for some 12 recent murders, continues to go unpunished. The IMC report follows the release of the Cory report, which found collusion between the British government and loyalist paramilitaries. ♦