Garda Commissioner says he has 'no regrets' over comments about Sinn Féin being run by IRA
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Garda Commissioner says he has 'no regrets' over comments about Sinn Féin being run by IRA

GARDA COMMISSIONER Drew Harris insists he's standing by comments he made last week about Sinn Féin and the IRA.

Harris caused controversy when he said that Garda "does not differ" from the assessment of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) that the so-called Provisional Army Council - the decision making body of the IRA - oversees Sinn Féin in some capacity.

In effect, Mr Harris agreed with Fine Gael and Fianna Fail's accusations that "shadowy figures" control Sinn Féin, which serves to explain why both Leo Varadkar and Michael Martin say they will not enter government with Mary Lou McDonald's party.

"I’ve no regrets and I think my comments were entirely clear so there’s no need for a clarification," he told reporters at a policing authority meeting on Wednesday," Harris said.

"I would never engage in political interference and my comments require no clarification.

"I think it’s obvious that I do stand over those comments," he added.

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"I outlined [position on Sinn Féin and the IRA] on Friday and I have no intention to further clarify or amplify those comments.

"As Garda commissioner I did provide the position of An Garda Siochana."

The PSNI's assessment that the IRA "strategically oversees" Sinn Féin comes from a 2015 report, which stated that the Provisional Army Council still existed, as did the Provisional IRA (PIRA), though in a smaller form and committed to the peace process.

During the election campaign, Varadkar asked: "Why doesn't McDonald disband the Army Council and the PIRA or if she cannot, repudiate them and sever all links and do so publicly and unequivocally?"