DUBLIN, Ireland – The Irish Republican Army (search) has halted a wide range of activities and is broadly observing its July 28 peace declaration, government officials who have read the unpublished report said Tuesday.
The report from the Independent Monitoring Commission, an expert panel formed by the British and Irish governments to assess the activities of the IRA and other outlawed groups, will be published Wednesday in Dublin (search). Officials summarized the report to The Associated Press.
One official, who spoke to the AP on condition his name and government not be identified, said the report concluded that the IRA has stopped many longtime activities, including so-called "punishment" shootings of criminal rivals within its Roman Catholic power bases.
The official said the experts had also offered positive, but cautionary, findings that the IRA was not involved in conducting surveillance on potential targets.
He said the experts offered no firm conclusions, however, on whether the underground group was withdrawing from involvement in criminal rackets, which has emerged as a major new stumbling block in Northern Ireland's peace process.
A second official, who works in a different government department and who also read the report, confirmed those conclusions to the AP. That official also spoke on condition of anonymity because British legislation requires reports to be presented to Parliament before they are discussed in public.
The report comes less than a month after disarmament officials announced they had scrapped the contents of the IRA's hidden network of arms dumps, a long-elusive goal of the 12-year-old peace process.
The four-man panel — among them a former deputy director of the CIA and a former commander of London's Scotland Yard — are scheduled to discuss their findings at a Dublin press conference Wednesday afternoon.
The report, which was delivered confidentially Friday to officials in both the British and Irish governments, is expected to be made public once it is presented to Parliament in London on Wednesday.
The British minister responsible for governing Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, also scheduled to discuss the findings Wednesday in Dublin with Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern (search).
Both governments have repeatedly stressed that, if the experts confirm that the IRA has ceased all activities over a prolonged period, they will expect leaders of Northern Ireland's British Protestant majority to reopen power-sharing negotiations with Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked party that represents most of the province's Catholics.
Hain specifically has said he is hopeful of reviving negotiations following the commission's next report on IRA activities, which is due in January. A four-party administration involving Sinn Fein was the central accomplishment of Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord, but it collapsed in 2002 amid chronic arguments over IRA weaponry and activities.