Irish Government calls for cross-border probe into Provisional IRA activity

Irish Government calls for cross-border probe into Provisional IRA activity

THE Irish Government has urged gardaí to liaise with police in the North of Ireland in a cross-border investigation of the Provisional IRA.

The continued existence of the IRA is being hotly debated in the aftermath of the death of Kevin McGuigan, a former PIRA member, in Belfast two weeks ago.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) chief constable George Hamilton said on Saturday that there was no evidence to link the PIRA to the killing, but claimed the IRA is still in existence but not for “paramilitary purposes”.

Irish Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald has now called for a police probe on both sides of the border.

In a statement released yesterday, she said: “Recent developments are of considerable concern but what we need to do now is establish all the current facts and that is what is happening in the rigorous investigation being carried out by the PSNI.

“I have asked the Garda Commissioner to liaise closely with the PSNI and carry out a fresh assessment of the status of PIRA in the light of any new evidence emerging during the PSNI investigation into the death of Mr McGuigan.”

The Fine Gael Minister also issued a hard line on the Irish Government's stance on both the Provisional IRA and Sinn Féin.

“As was clear from what the Chief Constable said at the weekend there are no simplistic answers about the continued existence of PIRA,” she said.

“To simply say PIRA continues to exist as if nothing has changed would be quite wrong.

"My party needs no lectures from anyone on what PIRA and Sinn Féin represented. Nor, in fairness, do the Garda Síochána many of whose members paid the ultimate price because of their activities."

The Minister also called for Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams to apologise for the “dreadful legacy” of the PIRA’s campaign.

“To be blunt, making organisational judgements is complicated by the fact that many, if not all, members of PIRA were members of Sinn Fein,” she said.

“Will Gerry Adams apologise for the dreadful legacy of crime and lawlessness left in the wake of the brutal campaign which PIRA waged and say what steps he takes to ensure there is no place in Sinn Féin for people who engage in serious crime?”

Mr Adams strongly denied PSNI claims that the PIRA is still in existence since its official ceasefire 10 years ago - but the North of Ireland's Secretary of State Teresa Villiers said that the claims did not surprise her.

Minister Fitzgerald's statement marks the Irish Government's first official remarks on the issue.

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley labelled her comments "political smears".