You are viewing the content for Thursday 2 February 2006

IRA slated over links to organised crime

By Michael O’Farrell, Political Reporter
OPPOSITION parties in Dublin reacted to yesterday’s Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) report by expressing disappointment that all criminal activities had not yet ceased.

While Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny welcomed confirmation that the IRA has made a strategic decision to end its armed campaign, he said yesterday’s report included "a number of findings which suggest that the IRA is being somewhat selective in its fulfilment of the promises made last July to end all activities".

"In particular, it confirms that IRA involvement in organised crime is continuing. It also finds that intelligence gathering is still being authorised by the provisional leadership to support their political strategy. These practices are totally unacceptable and must be ended if Sinn Féin wants to be treated as a fully democratic party," he said.

Mr Kenny also noted that the IMC report indicates that Sinn Fin did not do enough to prevent the murder of Joseph Rafferty despite being aware of threats to his life.

"Sinn Féin should now belatedly do the decent thing and ensure that the murderer in this case is brought to justice," he said.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte acknowledged the IRA’s progress but criticised reports of ongoing criminality.

"Ongoing reports of criminality, intelligence-gathering, and the fact that the IRA has retained weaponry, in particular, demonstrate that there is still some way to go before Northern Ireland is a fully peaceful, lawful, and democratic society," he said.

Mr Rabbitte said the IMC’s conclusion that the IRA has retained an unquantified amount of weapons "totally undermines efforts to accept republicans as involved purely in democratic politics".

"Combined with the CAB raids on properties and businesses in Dublin, this demonstrates that the IRA remains an illegitimate organisation deeply involved in criminality and with the capacity to resort to violence at any stage," he said.

Green Party leader Trevor Sargent said he was disappointed with the report.

"One would have hoped for a cleaner bill of health. It extends the length of time that we have to sit in this political vacuum. We call on the Irish and British governments to focus on a Plan B, in the event that Plan A continues to stall, or even fails," he said.

Mr Sargent expressed concern at the finding that two new dissident groups have formed.

"While at the moment the small breakaway groups may not appear too threatening, they do represent a risk in the future."

He also referred to the difficulty in relying on a report compiled from the "murky world" of MI5 and Special Branch sources.

"Because Sinn Féin is still not on the policing board, and issues such as the McCartney killing are still not resolved, we’ve a considerable way to go before a clean bill of health can be issued," he added.