Tuesday 20 February 2018

Reports on Provo activity under way by garda chiefs

Nóirín O'Sullivan
Nóirín O'Sullivan
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Garda chiefs nationwide are compiling reports on the activities of suspected republican activists and former IRA personnel in their areas.

The national check on the Provisionals has been ordered by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan in a directive to her regional commanders.

Each of the selected assistant commissioners is then putting together the results produced by chief superintendents in their own divisions, before presenting the findings to Ms O'Sullivan.

Their assessments will be fed into an overall review at Garda Headquarters, where senior officers are completing an up-to-date dossier on the IRA for the Government.

The fresh review was sought by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald after the peace process in Northern Ireland had been plunged into controversy last month when the PSNI publicly revealed its belief that members of the Provisional IRA were involved in the murder of Kevin McGuigan in Belfast during the summer.

Ms O'Sullivan will meet her regional commanders in the coming days as the results are finalised.

"The aim of the regional checks is to produce as comprehensive a report as possible on the current position of the IRA for the Government", a senior garda officer told the Irish Independent last night.

Chiefs have also been told to take another look at serious crime files in their divisions to establish where former Provisionals might have been involved and determine whether they were acting on behalf of the organisation or operating as 'ordinary' criminals.

The current role of the Provisionals in criminal activity is also expected to feature high on the agenda for the annual cross-border conference on organised crime, which is being held in Sligo on Wednesday of this week.

Commissioner O'Sullivan and PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton are likely to use the conference to hold private discussions on the perceived differences in their separate assessments of the Provisional IRA.

Those assessments are seen as highlighting the varying structures that operate within the Provisionals on the northern side of the Border, when compared with the South.

But despite the comprehensive nationwide garda checks, it is thought unlikely that Ms O'Sullivan will be presented with any evidence to persuade her to waver from her current thinking that the Provisional IRA, as a proscribed organisation, is not involved in criminal activity.

She holds the view that former members of the organisation are carrying out crimes but are acting without the control or sanction of the IRA.

But she has emphasised that if any intelligence, hard evidence or facts emerge to indicate that the IRA is active in this jurisdiction, the gardaí will take immediate action.

Ms O'Sullivan argues that the existing garda assessment remains consistent with the findings of the final report of the Independent Monitoring Commission that the IRA's military structures have been disbanded.

And she says that gardaí believe the IRA has given up its terrorist capacity.

She is "very conscious" of the ongoing PSNI investigations into the McGuigan murder and does not want to make any comment that might impact on those inquiries.

Nevertheless, any new emerging lines of inquiry that could be relevant to this jurisdiction will be taken into account in the garda assessment of the IRA.

Senior gardaí point out that, aside from the current review, assessments of all of the republican organisations, mainstream and dissident, are continually made and updated.

Irish Independent

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