Monday 26 September 2016

Timeline: Tracking a controversy that touched on fuel-laundering, smuggling and murder and left the Stormont Executive on the brink of collapse

Published 21/10/2015 | 02:30

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton: 'Some current Provisional IRA and former members continue to engage in a range of criminal activity and occasional violence in the interest of personal gain'
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton: 'Some current Provisional IRA and former members continue to engage in a range of criminal activity and occasional violence in the interest of personal gain'
DUP leader Peter Robinson

December 2014-February 2015: Journalist Jim Cusack writes a series of articles in the Sunday Independent outlining how the PIRA is linked to fuel-laundering and smuggling.

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February 19, 2015: Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan instructs her private secretary to write to Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, informing him that An Garda Síochána has no information or intelligence to support the assertion of Mr Cusack that "the Provisional IRA still maintains its military structure and confines its criminal activities to fuel laundering, cigarette-smuggling and counterfeiting".

May 5: Former IRA commander Gerard 'Jock' Davison (47) is shot dead in Belfast.

August 12: Kevin McGuigan (53), another ex-IRA member, is murdered close to his home in the Short Strand. Police begin to investigate if there is a link between the two shootings, amid speculation that Mr McGuigan was killed in a revenge attack by IRA people associated with Mr Davision.

August 22: PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton tells a press conference that the PIRA still has structures in place. "We have no information to suggest that violence, as seen in the murder of Kevin McGuigan, was sanctioned or directed at a senior level in the republican movement. Some current Provisional IRA and former members continue to engage in a range of criminal activity and occasional violence in the interest of personal gain."

August 23: Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams denies the PIRA is still in existence. "In July 2005 the IRA left the stage," he said. "Its leadership ordered an end to the armed campaign."

August 24: Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers says she is "not surprised" by police assessment that the IRA still exists.

August 26: Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan says her letter of February 19 did not deal with the question of whether the PIRA continued to exist. "Instead, it dealt only with a specific question as to whether 'the Provisional IRA still maintains its military structure and confines its criminal activities to fuel laundering, cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting.'"

September 9: Sinn Féin's Northern chairman Bobby Storey is arrested in connection with McGuigan murder. Mr Storey is later released without charge.

September 10: DUP leader Peter Robinson stands downs as First Minister of the Northern Executive and announces that three of his four ministers are to resign.

September 22: Talks aimed at salvaging the Executive begin.

September 23: Independent panel begins to assess paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland.

October 19: Theresa Villiers tells the British that the PIRA's army council still exists but in a "much reduced form".

Her report, jointly drafted by the PSNI and MI5, states that the PIRA has access to weapons and is involved in criminal activity such as smuggling and isolated incidents of violence, including murders.

Meanwhile, a Garda review of the PIRA finds that the army council is not active in the Republic.

Irish Independent

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