Sunday 22 July 2018

Flanagan: Nobody believes 'blanket denials'

Charlie Flanagan
Charlie Flanagan
John Downing

John Downing

"Blanket denials" by Sinn Féin on the existence of the Provisional IRA are "most unhelpful" and nobody believes them, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has said.

Mr Flanagan also said Sinn Féin must do more to ensure that those who have evidence on the recent murders hand it over to the authorities. He urged all parties in the North to redouble efforts to help avert the collapse of the power-sharing executive.

The Foreign Affairs Minister is due to meet with the Northern Ireland secretary, Theresa Villiers, tomorrow along with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to plot the next move in the fortnight-old crisis.

The problems arose from PSNI chief constable George Hamilton's assertion that IRA members were involved in the murder on August 12 of Kevin McGuigan in cooperation with a group calling itself Action Against Drugs.

Mr Hamilton also said the PIRA is not engaged in terrorism and there is no evidence the murder was sanctioned by IRA leadership. But the comments have added to the serious erosion of trust between unionists and Sinn Féin, and on Saturday, the smaller Ulster Unionist Party voted to remove their representative from the power-sharing government in Belfast.

The larger Democratic Unionist Party has already begun a series of moves which threaten to bring down the executive. This week, all parties return from summer holidays and Mr Flanagan said it was time everyone reassessed the benefits of the Belfast executive.

"It is incumbent on everybody to make sure that we return to a recommitment of the basic principles, to the institutions and indeed the gains of the Good Friday Agreement," Mr Flanagan told RTÉ.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said the political situation was grave but there was no benefit in what he called "car crash politics". He said the five party leaders in the Stormont administration and the Irish and British governments must work to restore trust.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar weighed into the debate yesterday calling for "cool heads" to avoid collapsing the power sharing executive. "The constitutional arrangements in the North are imperfect but they have underpinned stability and peace for more than a decade now," Mr Varadkar said.

Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton castigated the Sinn Féin leadership and urged a swift determination by the security authorities on alleged IRA criminality.

"Given their lethal history and poisonous behaviour, we would expect a far speedier response," Ms Creighton said.

Irish Independent

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