Is the terrorist campaign truly over? This is a valid question given the high number of incidents caused by terrorist organisations on a weekly basis in Northern Ireland. Weapons and explosives in the possession of terrorist organisations remain the greatest concern for the British authorities.
Decommissioning was supposed to have taken place under the auspices of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) headed by General de Chastelain. The problem is that no-one knows exactly what the arsenal possessed by loyalist and republican terrorist organisations actually consisted of in the first place. It is also difficult to know whether these arms in their entirety were put beyond use at the time decommissioning was witnessed by the IICD.
Specific legislation was implemented to allow decommissioning to occur along with a guarantee that no prosecution would ensue. A further agreement was made between IICD and various terrorist organisations not to reveal the number and type of weapons held and destroyed by each of them. In these circumstances it is difficult to be sure that decommissioning was indeed completed.
In fact, it appears that the PSNI and MI5 do not believe that all IRA weapons and explosives were decommissioned. The terrorist threat remains very high in Northern Ireland. Police Officers and Army personnel are particularly at risk of becoming victims of an attack.
The IICD has not yet been wound up. Since the last decommissioning operation a year ago, as part of a very long decommissioning process, the Commission still has to produce its final report. This will be sent to the British and Irish Governments, who may then realise that the very process of decommissioning, dependent on the willingness of terrorist groups to cooperate, could never have ensured that all weapons and explosives would actually be decommissioned.