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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Commissioner rejects claims that An Garda Siochana denied PIRA existence

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

Niall O’Connor

GARDA Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has admitted the Provisional IRA exists – ending days of silence on a controversy that has engulfed political circles on both sides of the border.

In a statement this evening, Ms O’Sullivan said An Garda Síochána “has not indicated at any time” that the Provisional IRA ceased to exist.

She said the views are consistent with a report by the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) which found that while the terrorist capability of the IRA has been the lost, the organisation remains intact.

But Ms O’Sullivan stood over a controversial letter she sent to a Sinn Féin TD in February which said the force has no “intelligence” to support claims that the IRA’s military structures remain in place.

Read More: Ulster Unionists intend to resign from Northern Ireland Executive over claims Provisional IRA still exists

The senior garda chief released the statement amid growing disquiet in garda and political circles.

She said An Garda Síochána has been “reluctant”  to comment on matters arising from the probes into the murders of Kevin McGuigan and Jock Davison in Belfast.

“However, it has been asserted by some that An Garda Síochána has denied the existence of the Provisional IRA. These comments appear to be based on a letter issued by An Garda Síochána to a public representative last February,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

"It was stated in reply that An Garda Síochána held no information or intelligence to support that assertion. That reply was consistent with the findings of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) and An Garda Síochána’s own assessment of the intelligence.

Read More: 'Sinn Fein have a responsibility to be honest with people' - Simon Coveney TD

"Indeed, the reply went on to cite other findings of the Commission, including the fact that some former members of PIRA engaged in crime for personal gain, but without sanction or support from the organisation.

"The IMC’s reports concluded, amongst other things, that the so-called ‘"military” departments’ had been disbanded and the former terrorist capability had been lost. The IMC has not indicated at any time that PIRA had ceased to exist; nor has An Garda Síochána.

"The position of An Garda Síochána is that there has been no evidence available in this jurisdiction to call into question the assessment made by the IMC.”

Read More: Sinn Fein's Caoimhghin O Caolain says IRA assertions of PSNI and political rivals are 'wrong' and an 'absolute disgrace'

The Commissioner said An Garda Síochána keeps its security assessments under “constant review and continues to do so particularly in the context of its liaison with the PSNI in relation to their investigation into the murder of Mr McGuigan.”

She added that “our security assessments will continue to be based on credible intelligence, hard facts and emerging evidence.”

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