Saturday 23 June 2018

Gerry Adams: 'I do not accept the PSNI claims about the IRA'

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton

Michael McHugh

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has rejected the PSNI Chief Constable's remarks about the existence of the Provisional IRA.

Speaking today, PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said the Provisional IRA still exists but is not on a war footing.

Kevin McGuigan
Kevin McGuigan

Individual members cooperated in shooting dead Kevin McGuigan in East Belfast but organisational structures have brought members of the outlawed organisation along the path of peace, Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton said.

Some structures have changed, some have been dissolved but those remaining are not being used for terrorism, he said.

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

In a statement issued shortly after Mr Hamilton's remarks, Mr Adams said: “Sinn Fein stands on our record in the peace and the political processes and on our mandate.

 “I note the comments by the Chief Constable today that he accepts the bona fides of the Sinn Fein leadership and our pursuit of the peace process and support for the police in the ongoing investigation into the deaths of Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan.

“The stand of Sinn Féin on the peace process is a matter of public record. Our integrity is based on our electoral mandate and not on the views of anyone else, even a chief constable.

 “I do not accept the PSNI claims about the IRA."

After years of ceasefire, the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and verified decommissioning of weapons republicans said in 2005 the IRA had gone "off the stage" and the British and Irish governments' independent monitoring commission found it had disbanded its terrorist infrastructure.

But the murder of ex-IRA member and father-of-nine Mr McGuigan last week in the Short Strand by suspected members of the Provisional movement in cooperation with a group styling itself Action Against Drugs has raised the prospect of a political bid to oust Sinn Fein from Stormont's power-sharing government.

Northern Ireland's largest party, the DUP, is to meet with Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers and consult other parties about excluding Sinn Fein from power following Mr McGuigan's killing.

Mr Hamilton said: "Some PIRA organisational infrastructure continues to exist but has undergone significant change since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998.

"Some primary operational level structures were changed and some elements have been dissolved completely since 2005."

He said in the organisational sense the Provisional IRA does not exist for paramilitary purposes.

"Nevertheless we assess that in common with the majority of Northern Ireland paramilitary groups from the period of the conflict, some of the PIRA structure from the 1990s remains broadly in place, although its purpose has radically changed since this period.

"Our assessment indicates that a primary focus of the Provisional IRA is now promoting a peaceful, political, republican agenda.

"It is our assessment that the PIRA is committed to following a political path and is no longer engaged in terrorism.

"I accept the bona fides of the Sinn Fein leadership regarding their rejection of violence and pursuit of the peace process and I accept their assurance that they want to support police in bringing those responsible to justice.

"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."

He said some current and former PIRA members continued to engage in criminal activity and occasional violence in the interest of "personal gain or personal agendas".

"Although still a proscribed organisation and therefore illegal we assess that the continuing existence and cohesion of the PIRA hierarchy has enabled the leadership to move the organisation forward within the peace process."

Police have linked a group called Action Against Drugs to the murder of Mr McGuigan and said individual PIRA members had cooperated with it.

Mr Hamilton added: "Some are former members of the PIRA but others have links to violent dissident republican groups and others are from a pure organised crime background.

"This group is intent on taking action against what it perceives as anti-social elements in Belfast but this is done in pursuit of their own criminal agenda.

"They are little more than an organised crime group in my view and we assess that Action Against Drugs is an independent group that is not part of or a cover name for the PIRA."

Read more here:

PSNI chief constable 'believes the IRA still exists' - Unionist leader  

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