Sunday 25 September 2016

It's time the Provo facade was subjected to scrutiny

The IRA continue to operate, so it is imperative that politicians and the public stop believing Sinn Fein's lies about the peace process, says Mairia Cahill

Mairia Cahill

Published 23/08/2015 | 02:30

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan

No matter how the Chief Constable, George Hamilton, tries to play it down, the assessment from the police during the week that Provisional IRA members were involved in the murder of Kevin McGuigan was a hugely significant moment for Northern Ireland. Mainly, because its recognition of what others have been saying for years.

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Those who knew, and who were saying so, like Micheal Martin, were often ridiculed and derided by Sinn Fein; those who knew, and said nothing, allowed the IRA to continue with criminal activity.

Sinn Fein's continued assertion that the "IRA left the stage in 2005" does not wash any longer. Paul Quinn was beaten to death by the IRA in 2007. Sinn Fein members have continued to insist that the IRA was not involved. Their denials over the years about IRA involvement in Colombia, in the Castlereagh break-in, in the Northern Bank, and in the ludicrous assertion over and over that Gerry Adams was not a member of the IRA, means that anything the party says on the IRA would be laughable - if it wasn't so serious.

Now we have two senior PSNI officers stating that the IRA still exists, albeit in a different form. And that is important, because it not only tells us what most of us already know, but it is coming from those with the intelligence, and the evidence to back it up. Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan must be feeling like a right eejit at this present moment.

Since the 1994 ceasefire, over 40 people have been murdered, either by shooting or stabbing, by the IRA. And Sinn Fein have been let off the hook time and time again. Some were murdered under a cover name, Direct Action Against Drugs, which conveniently gave Sinn Fein a bit of distance, as they continued to peddle the lie that the IRA had "left the stage". Now the organisation Action Against Drugs is in the frame for McGuigan's murder, and the same excuses are being trotted out again.

Whether or not members of the Provisional IRA had an order from the Army Council or not is irrelevant - members of the Provisional IRA are in the frame. And that is a huge headache for Sinn Fein, who have spent the last number of years trying to hoodwink those in the South that it is a party fit for government, wedded to "exclusively peaceful means".

To understand why that statement is bunkum, look no further than Gerry Adams. Last year, he was calling the IRA members who were involved in my case "decent people". When I asked Sinn Fein to expel IRA activists who are now current Sinn Fein members, I was ignored.

Sinn Fein call on everyone else to come forward to the police in the North regarding illegal activity, but yet, when Adams was asked to cooperate with the police in my case, his statement named not one IRA member, and he would not meet the police face to face.

Sinn Fein ride two horses - the one which outwardly hails them as architects of the peace process, and the other, which absorbs the IRA into their ranks and gives their members status and control over communities, and in which their own members hold them in high regard. It's not criminality to Sinn Fein if it's done in the name of the IRA, and therein lies the problem.

"They are not on a war footing, they are not involved in paramilitary activity in the sense that they were during the conflict," said Hamilton yesterday.

So, while they may not be involved in sectarian killing, they're killing each other. It's fair to follow that intelligence gathering still takes place, that money laundering and other activities that swell republican coffers still happen (a property portfolio in the 1990s that the Department of Justice estimated at €400m, for example), and that IRA internal investigations are still ongoing. After the murder of Jock Davison, one such investigation took place, which put Kevin Mc Guigan's name in the frame. And now he is dead. It doesn't take a genius to work out what happened.

After the murder of Charles Bennett in 1999, the Northern Ireland Office gave Sinn Fein a get-out clause by referring to the murder by the IRA as "internal housekeeping". This is largely similar to the Chief Constable George Hamilton's assertion yesterday that while individual members of the IRA cooperated in the shooting of McGuigan, organisational structures have brought them along the path of peace.

It's like telling a naughty child with their hands caught in the cookie jar not to do it again because they didn't know any better.

The IRA will have known that this murder would put not only them, but SF, in the spotlight of scrutiny, and that tells us that, either they don't care because Stormont is in a state of limbo, or that they believe they are untouchable.

The fault, apart from those who have murdered, as I've stated before, lies with politicians and those in positions of influence who allow Sinn Fein to escape proper scrutiny on most issues. There are no sanctions which can be placed on them, apart from at the ballot box. The murder of IRA men pales in comparison with a threat to collapse the institutions. That doesn't mean that republican actions of wrongdoing should not be highlighted.

Of course, anyone who does so is accused by Gerry Adams of being an enemy of the peace process. Nothing could be further from the truth. The only people who put the peace process in jeopardy are those who provide excuses for murder gangs to continue.

Until our politicians and the public start to really look behind the Sinn Fein facade, the IRA will continue with impunity in whatever guise it chooses.

Sunday Independent

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