Garda chief is ordered to reassess IRA threat
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan has been ordered to carry out an urgent report into the activities of the IRA - just months after denying the Provos' existence.
The commissioner's credibility is now on the line after Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald demanded that the IRA threat be reassessed.
Senior gardaí admit that the commissioner's claim that the force has no "information or intelligence" on IRA activity was a grave mistake.
But despite the deep unease her stance has caused within political and garda circles, Ms O'Sullivan's office last night told the Irish Independent her position "remains the same".
The extraordinary events of recent days came after PSNI chiefs confirmed IRA involvement in the brutal murder of Kevin McGuigan in Belfast.
The revelation by PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has left the future of Stormont in doubt and the reputation of senior Sinn Féin figures in tatters.
But in a fresh twist, the Justice Minister has abandoned her soft line on the Provos as a result of the tough stance adopted by Labour Party ministers.
After days of mealy-mouthed utterances, Ms Fitzgerald issued a 900-word statement on the IRA's re-emergence.
While insisting that its military capabilities have been "lost", Ms Fitzgerald finally admitted that people connected with the IRA "continue to be associated with serious crime".
"There is no doubt that people who have been associated with PIRA have been - and continue to be - involved in the most serious crime and neither Gerry Adams nor Sinn Féin can wash their hands of responsibility for that," Ms Fitzgerald said.