U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 - Ireland

There were notable positive developments in Irish counterterrorism cooperation. A remarkable change from 2004 was the September 26 decommissioning of weapons by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA). In addition, Ireland passed new counterterrorism legislation, signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with the United States, and came into compliance with a 2004 UN International Maritime Organization code.

On March 9, the Irish Government made strides in strengthening counterterrorism legislation when President Mary McAleese signed the Criminal Justice (Terrorism Offenses) Bill into law. It enabled Ireland to ratify and accede to four international conventions and protocols on terrorism, and significantly strengthened the government's ability to seize assets and prosecute those suspected of supporting terrorism.

Before this law was passed, authorities could only pursue and prosecute terrorist suspects if they committed criminal offenses in Ireland or were designated by the United Nations or EU. On September 15, Ireland signed, subject to ratification, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

In July, the government completed the installation of new counterterrorist security measures at Irish international seaports, bringing Ireland into compliance with the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) code established in July 2004. These arrangements are aimed at preventing a terrorist strike on Ireland or the use of Irish ports for an attack on another country. In July, the Irish Justice Minister and the U.S. Ambassador signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) to further increase cooperation in the fight against global crime and terrorism. This agreement allows for more bilateral cooperation in police investigations and updated rules on extraditions. Nonetheless, the Irish courts' restrictive approach to carrying out extraditions continued to be of concern to U.S. officials.

In August, three men who had been found guilty in Colombia of aiding Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) terrorists secretly returned to Ireland to escape Colombian prison sentences. They were detained and questioned by the Irish national police but released without charge. The Colombian Government requested their extradition. Ireland does not have an extradition treaty with Colombia, but the case remains under review. The Irish Director of Public Prosecutions is investigating whether charges can be brought against one of the three for traveling on a false passport.

On July 28, a spokesman for the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) made a statement calling for an end to the PIRA's armed campaign and instructed its members to cease all forms of illegal PIRA activity. The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning announced on September 26 its judgment that the PIRA had "put beyond use – all the arms in the IRA's possession." The Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) reported that since the September decommissioning, PIRA did not demonstrate any evidence of training and recruitment of terrorists or intent to return to violence.

The IMC released reports on paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland. The Seventh Report of the IMC, published in October, analyzed continued activity in the Republic of Ireland by the following terrorist groups:

The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) maintained its terrorist capacity and was capable of effective sporadic attacks. The IMC reported that CIRA intends to continue to engage in terrorism and other crime. In the Republic, two CIRA members were arrested in January in possession of an under-car explosive, and nine members were imprisoned for charges related to 2003 arrests. Two members were also convicted of unlawful possession of firearms. In December, the Special Criminal Court in Dublin charged a man with possession of an improvised explosive device and membership in an unlawful organization styling itself the Irish Republican Army. Police are investigating his links to CIRA. The case was still pending at year's end.

The Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) continued to be a threat. The IMC reported that RIRA is committed to terrorism as a result of its continued efforts to gain and train members in the use of explosives. In the Republic, five people were convicted of membership in RIRA this year.

In the first half of 2005, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) maintained its capacity as a terrorist organization. The IMC reported during this period that PIRA decreased its involvement in violence, but increased its participation in organized criminal activity. It was unclear how active PIRA was in the Irish Republic, but Irish Government officials suspected continued recruitment of members until the July 28 statement ending PIRA's armed campaign. Prior to this statement, the Justice Minister estimated there were approximately 1,500 active members in PIRA.


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