The brutal murder of former republican prisoner Kevin McGuigan in a Belfast pub in August 2015 put the spotlight on the post-decommissioning and ceasefire status of the Provisional IRA.
A statement from then-PSNI chief constable George Hamilton about the role of IRA members in the murder and an unrelated letter by then-Garda commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan about the existence of the IRA leadership created confusion on if the terrorist organisation's ruling "army council" was still in place.
Mr Hamilton later made it clear that he was blaming individual Provisional IRA members for the murder of McGuigan and said the organisation's leadership had not sanctioned the killing.
A report, commissioned by the British government and based mainly on assessments from the PSNI and the security service, MI5, while agreeing with Mr Hamilton that the murder was not sanctioned by the army council, concluded that the ruling body continued to exist.
It found that the seven-strong army council, according to intelligence, "oversees both Provisional IRA and Sinn Féin with an overarching strategy".
The report said the current army council had a "wholly political focus" and posed no threat to the peace process.
Its conclusion about its military role has been borne out by events since then. More worrying was the finding that a group of seven terrorists continued to have the final say on the policies of its former political wing, Sinn Féin.
In the meantime, Ms O'Sullivan managed to sort out her own controversy over a letter she had sent to a Sinn Féin TD in which she stated the IRA no longer existed. She later stated that the issues surrounding the continued existence of the Provisional IRA were inevitably complex and to say it existed without further clarification would be misleading.
"Obviously, the Provisional IRA does not exist as the organisation it did, say 20 years ago, which was involved in what it regarded as armed conflict."
She argued that assessments were further complicated by the fact that many persons who had been associated with the IRA were also part of what might be regarded as a wider movement, which included a "particular political party".
It was noteworthy, she added, there was no evidence of recruitment to the Provisional IRA in recent years and referenced a 2008 report from the Independent Monitoring Commission, which stated the Provisional IRA had abandoned its terrorist structures, preparations and capabilities.
Ms O'Sullivan said the Garda assessment in 2015 was that while persons who had been linked with the Provisional army council continued to associate, there was no evidence of an army council, in the generally accepted sense, meeting or functioning in this jurisdiction.
It is against that background that yesterday's comments by the current Garda Commissioner must be viewed.
Drew Harris said he was aware of the PSNI and British security service's assessment and "we do not differ from that view".
Garda intelligence, according to sources, has consistently led to the conclusion since the ceasefire that those deemed to be members of the army council continue to play a key role in determining the positions taken by Sinn Féin on key political issues.
While no longer the political wing of the IRA, Sinn Féin is still regarded as part of the Provisional republican movement, which once had a military wing.
It is not unfair, then, to assess that the army council oversees the stance adopted by the political party in certain circumstances. The PSNI/MI5 report also stated that along with the army council, the IRA still held on to some "departments" with specific responsibilities.
But gardaí say there is no evidence of any "military departments" in operation in this jurisdiction. Since 1998, those departments initially ceased to function, fell into disuse and then disbanded, according to gardaí, resulting in the former terrorist capability being lost.
The Garda assessment, based mainly on the intelligence gathered by the Special Branch at Harcourt Square, Dublin, and the security and intelligence section at Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park, indicates evidence of a significant number of people, who had been associated with the Provisional IRA, remaining criminally active, particularly in organised crime, and continuing to associate together.
The ex-terrorists were said to have made full use of their "legacy" reputations and, in some cases, their former terrorist tactics.
But there was nothing in that assessment to suggest that this activity was being directed by the leadership of the organisation or that it was being carried out for anything other than personal gain.
The assessment also concluded that some had access to weaponry.
Since the Criminal Assets Bureau was established in 1996 up until 2015, a total of €28m has been sent to State coffers arising from actions under the Proceeds of Crime Act against persons believed to have been linked to the IRA previously.
Tax assessments have also been carried out in relation to more than 50 targets, who have had connections to or associations with the Provisional IRA in the past.
Gardaí say the intelligence and evidence is completely in line with the assessments provided in the past by the Independent Monitoring Commission in its various reports.
And no evidence has emerged in the course of preparing its assessments to call into question the findings of the commission.
Gardaí say their security reviews are kept under constant review.
They point to the successful record of co-operation with the PSNI in tackling cross-Border crime and say this relationship will continue to be the foundation stone of combating, without fear or favour.
The existence of an army council with an overarching strategy for Sinn Féin has been strenuously denied by the party.
But a shout of 'Up the Ra' by a newly elected Sinn Féin TD implies some of its leading members would not be worried were that the position.