Defence Minister Simon Coveney says claims Provisional IRA members are involved in criminality a 'real concern'
MINISTER for Defence Simon Coveney has described as a “real concern” claims Provisional IRA members are still active and involved in criminality.
Speaking following PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton’s admission that the “Provisional IRA organisation infrastructure continues to exist”, Mr Coveny said the Government had to be “very cautious” not to exacerbate tensions in Northern Ireland.
Mr Hamilton’s comments on the IRA were made during a press conference relating to the murder of former IRA member Kevin McGuigan.
He said, while the IRA still exists, it is not involved in “paramilitary activity” but some members are involved in criminality.
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On RTE Radio One, Mr Coveney said: “The part of the statement that is of real concern is when he (Mr Hamilton) said some current Provisional IRA or former members continue to engage in a range of criminal activities and occasional violence in the interest of personal gain or personal agendas.”
He added: “I think the Government is very cautious here not to add to an already difficult situation. We want the PSNI to be free to conclude their investigation and if there are serious questions to answer at the end of that investigation then we will want to hear them.”
In response to questions about Garda Commission Noirin O’Sullivan’s claim that gardai have no information to suggest the terrorist organisation is still active, Mr Coveney said the IRA is an illegal organisation, and if gardai had intelligence suggesting it was operating in the Republic of Ireland arrests would be made.
He also pointed to the latest report by the Independent Monitoring Committee, which said former republicans became involved in criminal activity before and after the ceasefire.
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