Coalition failing to properly face new threat from Provisional IRA
THE Coalition is failing to face the threat posed by the re-emergence of the Provisional IRA head on, despite serious concerns raised across the Border about the return of the terror group.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald claimed the Provisional IRA (PIRA) does not exist as a terrorist organisation, in the face of mounting pressure over the status of theorganisation.
Ms Fitzgerald also weighed in behind Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, who has insisted Gardai have no intelligence to suggest the PIRA still maintains its structures.
The comments follow the shock admission by PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton that PIRA still exists, albeit not as terrorist organisation, but one in which some members are involved in serious criminality.
However, confusion persists over the status of the group and the level of intelligence available to An Garda Siochana and the Government.
Fresh concerns were raised last week after the Belfast shooting of Kevin McGuigan, thought to be a revenge attack for the earlier death of former IRA man Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison.
While the Government here is slow to denounce the return of a potential paramilitary threat, in the North the controversy has brought the Stormont Assembly to the brink.
Crucially, Ms Fitzgerald did not actually acknowledge the organisation still exists.
In a statement, the Department of Justice said the position in relation to the status of PIRA is complex, but “undoubtedly persons who had been associated with PIRA have been involved in criminal activities”.
The Department insisted the Gardai and the PSNI were of the same view on the matter.
However, the PSNI has been far clearer in outlining its belief that the structures of the terror organisation remain in place.
Chief Constable Hamilton said this weekend that the “Provisional IRA organisational infrastructure continues to exist, but has undergone significant change since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998”.
Mr Hamilton said the PIRA was involved in promoting a “peaceful, political republican agenda”, but some members are engaging in a “range of criminal activity”.
Yesterday, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams insisted the PIRA has “gone away” and attacked what he called “alphabet groups” who have no right to link themselves with the Irish Republican Army.