IRA could be taken off UK government's banned list

The IRA could be taken off the British government's list of banned organisations, it was disclosed today.

The group handed over weapons and stood down members in July 2005 after 30 years of violence.

The British government's terrorism expert Alex Carlile said some proscribed organisations connected with the North had dwindled to almost or actually nothing.

"Given the level of intelligence probably available about such organisations ministers should consider carefully whether some should be removed from the list on the grounds of effective redundancy," he said.

In April 2006 the Irish and British government-appointed Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) said the IRA was committed to following the political path and engaging with the police.

An NIO spokesman said: "We have noted the requirement for the status of all paramilitary organisations to be reviewed and the Northern Ireland groups will be reviewed in the coming months."

The IRA's renunciation of violence was a key factor in unionists' decision to share political power with Sinn Féin at Stormont. It faces calls for an end to its ruling Army Council before policing powers can be handed down to the Northern Assembly.

The Provisional IRA is one of 14 republican and loyalist organisations outlawed.

Others include the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), which is working with weapons inspectors from General John De Chastelain's Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD), and dissident republicans.

The latter groups have made several attempts to kill police in Counties Tyrone and Derry in recent months.

In May, a bomb left an off-duty officer in Spamount, Tyrone, with serious leg injuries.

In another case, a policeman taking his child to school in the nationalist Bogside area of Derry was shot at.

The Provisional IRA was criticised by the family of Paul Quinn, 21, from South Armagh, who was beaten to death last year.

A gang attacked him in a Co Monaghan farm building.

However, the IMC said the killing was clearly contrary to the instructions and strategy of the IRA leadership.

It said it was the result of local disputes and some members, or former IRA members, may have been involved.

Sinn Féin condemned the murder.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said: "Regardless of what Lord Carlile and the NIO say the reality is the legislation should be removed from the statute books.

"This has been abused down the years and should have no place in the human rights culture we are trying to establish here."

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