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Sunday 18 February 2018

Sinn Féin 'shocked' at Bobby Storey's arrest in Provisional IRA murder probe

Bobby Storey (right) and Sean 'Spike' Murray (centre) carry the coffin of Gerard
Bobby Storey (right) and Sean 'Spike' Murray (centre) carry the coffin of Gerard "Jock" Davison, a former IRA commander, in the Market's area of Belfast.

Philip Ryan, David Kearns, Michael McHugh and David Young

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has he was "shocked" by the news that senior party member Bobby Storey has been arrested by police investigating a murder by Provisional IRA members.

Mr Adams said he was gravely concerned by developments surrounding the murder of Kevin McGuigan, saying that was "no rationale, logic or evidence to suggest there is any organisation in mainstream republicanism except for Sinn Féin".

Speaking to RTÉ's News at One, Mr Adams said the IRA, as people knew it, was gone.

He said there is no reason why he would be telling any untruths about the "going away of the IRA".

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“Sinn Féin, and others, have built a better process than war. There is no reason for any of us to be telling untruths about the end of the IRA.

"We are not accountable to the murders of Kevin McGuigan and Gerard Davison, and nor are the people who elected us."

The Sinn Fein president described Mr Storey as a valued member of Sinn Fein's leadership and a person of great integrity.

The party's northern chairman, Mr Storey was detained today in connection with the fatal shooting of Kevin McGuigan in Belfast last month.

He was speaking following the arrest of three men, including the party's northern chairman Bobby Storey, in Belfast this morning.

Two other men were also arrested, well-known republicans Eddie Copeland and Brian Gillen.

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Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams

Mr Adams said the PSNI must be allowed carry out its investigation.

“Bobby is valuable and trusted member of our leadership... and I would presume he will be released soon," Ms Adams told RTÉ's News At One.

“I have grave concerns about how all of this has developed, including the arrest of Bobby Storey,” he said.

He later added: “He is a long standing friend of mine. I first met him in the cages of Long Kesh when he was very young man and the rest if a matter of history.”

“[Our party] is very clear that the PNSI must be supported in their investigation into the killing of Kevin McGuigan and Gerard Davison, and we’re mindful that two families have been bereaved."

Mr Adams said the murders of Mr McGuigan and that of Gerard 'Jock' Davison in May were being used in a 'contrived way' in an attempt to exclude Sinn Féin.

"Lets be mindful of the agendas being served here. I have grave concerns about how all of this current crisis has developed since the dreadful killing of Kevin McGuigan, and am mindful in recent times that two families, the Davison and McGuigan families, have both been grieved."

He added: “I noted a remark from the Taoiseach that I need to exert more control over former members of the IRA. I can’t exert control over former members of the IRA,” he said.

He added: “No more than the Taoiseach can be responsible for former members of Fine Gael or Micheál Martin can be responsible for former members of Fianna Fáil. We have repudiated it, we have condemned it and we have made it clear they do not do this in our name.”
The Sinn Féin leader claimed the potential for a breakdown of the talks at Stormont House was more to do with ongoing competition between the UUP and DUP.

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He described the battle between the unionist parties as "wrong" and "reprehensible politics of the lowest kind".

Victim: Kevin McGuigan was shot dead in east Belfast
Victim: Kevin McGuigan was shot dead in east Belfast

The PNSI have said the murder of Kevin McGuigan was not sanctioned by the IRA.

A police assessment of IRA involvement in the killing has brought the power-sharing institutions in Northern Ireland to the brink of collapse.

The arrests, made in north and west Belfast, take to 16 the number of people detained as part of the murder investigation to date.

One man has been charged with weapons offences.

Mr McGuigan, a 53-year-old father-of-nine, was gunned down outside his home at Comber Court in the Short Strand area of east Belfast last month.

He was suspected by some in the republican movement of involvement in the murder of former IRA leader Gerard "Jock" Davison close to Belfast city centre four months ago.

Police believe his killing was a revenge attack by Mr Davison's republican associates.

Although detectives said individual IRA members were involved in the shooting, they have said there is no evidence to suggest it was sanctioned at a senior level.

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Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable George Hamilton has also said the IRA is not engaged in terrorism but instead is pursuing a peaceful, political republican agenda.

The political fallout from both murders has had major repercussions for the devolved Assembly, with crisis talks on-going at Stormont in a bid to save the stumbling institutions.

Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness insisted Mr Storey was a key advocate of peace.

"I was surprised to learn about the arrest this morning of our six-county party chair Bobby Storey," he said.

"Bobby Storey played a leading role in the development of Sinn Fein's peace strategy and is a long standing and loyal supporter, defender and advocate of the peace and political processes.

"We look forward with confidence to his early release."

Mr Storey’s arrest comes as the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) threatens to bring down the power sharing executive in Northern Ireland over claims from the PSNI that certain Provisional IRA’s structures still exist.

Mr Adams said there is “only one republican organisation involved in the republican struggle” and that is Sinn Féin.

“You don’t have to believe me. You can believe whoever you wish,” he added.

He said his party was willing to go before the electorate in the North if the DUP pulls out of Stormont.

“Sinn Féin is very happy to go before the electorate with our record and with our vision for the future. At the core of this is an attempt to exclude those who vote for Sinn Féin and we will not tolerate that,” he said.

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