Sinn Féin should be expelled from the North's power-sharing Executive if it is proven the Provisional IRA was behind the murder of one of its former members in Belfast, Stormont’s First Minister has said.
Democratic Unionist leader Peter Robinson warned of political “repercussions” if it transpires the IRA shot dead Kevin McGuigan in the republican Short Strand area on Wednesday night. However, Sinn Féin has vehemently denied the IRA was involved in the shooting.
It is understood Mr McGuigan, who was a former IRA prisoner but had fallen out with the organisation, was a suspect in the murder of former IRA leader Gerard ’Jock’ Davison in the nearby Markets area of Belfast three months ago.
This has prompted speculation the murder was a revenge attack carried out by Mr Davison’s associates in the republican movement. The Provisional IRA has been on ceasefire since 1997 and decommissioned its weapons in 2005.
Mr Robinson said: “It’s atrocious that people think they can take the law into their own hands and dispense justice as they see it.
“Whatever the background of the individual might be we have due process in Northern Ireland and I think the overwhelming majority of people in Northern Ireland don’t want to go back to those bad old days.”
Asked whether he was concerned about the suggestion of mainstream republican involvement, he added: “There must be concern about that. Obviously we want to let the PSNI carry out their investigations but we will want to talk to the police to establish whether there is any organisational involvement from the Provisional IRA, whether there was any decision that links the events of last night to the republican movement.
“If there is there will be repercussions. Legislation sets out the steps that should be taken but if any organisation has gone back on its ceasefire then very clearly there is no place for their representatives to be in the Executive of Northern Ireland and they should be expelled from it.”
Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey denied the IRA was involved. He branded such speculation “unhelpful and unwelcome”.
“I have no concerns about any IRA involvement in this whatsoever,” he said.
“I don’t accept for one second that the IRA has been involved in this, it just does not register at all.
“What I am concerned about is unhelpful speculation. We will be meeting with the PSNI shortly and what we will expect from the PSNI is a thorough and speedy investigation into events which resulted in the murder of a Short Strand citizen which has angered and hurt not only people in the area but much wider afield. It should not be happening and it needs to stop.
“It is unhelpful and unwelcome for people to enter into speculation. Whoever caused this killing should be and hopefully will be brought to justice as speedily as possible. We are calling for calm, we are calling for respect for this particular family at this time in the midst of their grief and we are cautioning against unhelpful and unwelcome speculation.”