Sinn Féin: groups 'masquerading under the cloak of republicanism'
Sinn Féin Laois-Offaly TD Brian Stanley has denied the Provisional IRA still exists but said there are groups "masquerading under the cloak of republicanism".
Mr Stanley claimed the IRA decommissioned and "stood down its structures" 20 years ago, despite a statement from the PSNI saying the organisation still exists.
"There may be other groups out there masquerading as some type of IRA or some type of organisation such as the so-called Real IRA or the Continuity IRA or the X, Y or Zs or whatever they like to call themselves," he said.
He said these groups should "disband" and "go away", before adding: "They have no contribution to make to society."
Mr Stanley was sent out to defend his party yesterday because senior Sinn Féin figures remain on holidays despite the peace process being on the verge of collapse.
Mr Stanley defended his senior colleagues - Mary Lou McDonald and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn - who have failed to make any public statements on the worrying developments in Northern Ireland following the murders of Kevin McGuigan and Gerard 'Jock' Davison.
"If there are people on holidays, there are people on holidays. I'm sure you took a week's holidays this year or you will take a week's holiday between now and Christmas if you have not already done so," he said.
Mr Stanley said his party welcomed the Garda review of potential Provisional IRA activity in the Republic of Ireland ordered by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
"It will show the army was stood down 10 years ago, that it doesn't exist," he said.
Referring to Joan Burton's comment that the IRA posed an "insidious threat", Mr Stanley said the Tánaiste would rather talk about an "imaginary army" than the "real issues" facing people. He said Ms Burton's time would be better spent trying to ensure the peace process moved forward rather than "having a pop" at Sinn Féin. He also said the party had confidence in the PSNI but disagreed with the police force on some issues.
"The main thrust of the police work they are doing, we support that," he added.