The Irish Times has a good article today laying out the peace process timetable for the next six months. The completion of decommissioning is the first item on the agenda.
The British and Irish governments expect IRA decommissioning will be completed quickly, following yesterday’s declaration by the organisation that it is abandoning its 35-year armed campaign.
It looks as if the need to recruit two clergymen from the Protestant and Catholic churches as independent witnesses may be causing some delay, but its unlikely to be prolonged.
The initial reponse from the British Government looks fairly positive. Peter Hain had this to say yesterday:
“For its part the Government accepts that the IRA statement is intended to express acts of completion. On that basis, the Government will implement those areas of the Joint Declaration of 2003 which were dependent on this long-awaited decision by the IRA. We will introduce legislation this autumn to resolve the outstanding issue of paramilitary suspects ‘on the run’ and we will move quickly to begin the normalisation programme outlined in the Joint Declaration. I intend to publish an updated version of that programme shortly. (Northern Ireland Office)
However, the next real milestones will be the upcoming reports of the Independent Monitoring Commission in October and January. Its only after those reports, that there will be any pressure on the DUP to engage over power sharing.
Sinn Fein has never accepted the IMC’s role, but they seem to have acquiesced to this timetable. There is potential for problems down the line, however, if the IMC issues a unfavourable report.