Tuesday 19 June 2018

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald claims Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan and PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton share same view on Provisional IRA

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

JUSTICE Minister Frances Fitzgerald has claimed Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan holds the same view as her Northern Ireland counterpart on the existence of the Provisional IRA.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton stated this weekend that the “Provisional IRA organisation infrastructure continues to exist” but is not involved in terrorist activities.

Earlier this year, in a letter to Sinn Féin, Comm O’Sullivan said gardai have no intelligence or information to suggest the IRA was maintaining its military structure.

But speaking this afternoon at the Michael Collins Commemoration in Beal na Blath, Cork, Ms Fitzgerald said: “Let me be clear the security assessment by the Chief Constable and the Garda Commissioner is the same.”

“Clearly everything is investigated on an ongoing basis and the IRA is a proscribed organisation and we have the Special Criminal court, we have  people been charged if they are involved in criminal activity or terrorist activity of any sort North or South and that will continue,” she added.

Ms Fitzgerald said she wished the IRA never existed because the “appalling atrocities and deaths over the decades”.

“Of course as the Chief Constable said and indeed as the Garda Commissioner said if people are involved for example in some guise of criminal activity, irrespective of their backgrounds or history, they will be investigated,” she said.

Asked if the Provisional IRA still operated in Ireland, Ms Fitzgerald said: “That’s a question that can be answered in a whole variety of ways.”

“The truth is they don’t exist as a terrorist organisation, as a military organisation in the South and the North they are proscribed organisation so if there was any evidence they would be prosecuted they would be investigated,” she added.

“If some people who were formerly members were involved in criminal activity and are organised in some way around criminal activity clearly that would be the subject of ongoing investigation by the Garda Siochana.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has released a statement saying Provisional IRA members were “undoubtedly” involved in crime but there is no evidence to suggest the terrorist organisation is active in Ireland.

“While undoubtedly persons who had been associated with PIRA have been involved in criminal activities, the information which has been available here has not called into question the general status of PIRA as set out in a series of reports by the Independent Monitoring Commission,” it stated.

It added: “However, it is obviously important that the investigation into the killing of Kevin McGuigan by the PSNI should continue unhindered and that who ever was responsible should be brought to justice.”

“The Minister meets regularly with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to discuss security matters and they will assess matters currently arising at a meeting they are due to have in the near future. The Garda authorities take action to combat all crime, regardless of the background of those involved, and they will continue to cooperate closely with the PSNI in working to improve community safety.”

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