Sinn Féin finance minister Pearse Doherty has claimed that former members of the Provisional IRA are no threat to the public as they are “getting on with their lives” and just meet “to have a drink”.
Mr Doherty made the comments as he accused the Government and political rivals of creating a “fake crisis” over “outlandish” claims the organisation still exists.
Speaking after returning from a summer break that has led to accusations the Sinn Féin frontbench is avoiding addressing the issue, the Donegal South West TD said the events of the past week have been over-stated and misused by rival parties.
He said PSNI chief constable Brian Hamilton was “misguided in his view”, and said that there was no evidence linking it to the recent murders.
“It has left the stage, the war is over, it is not coming back. That has been the position since 2005 [decommissioning], it was the position three weeks ago [when Kevin McGuigan was murdered] and it is the same position today. It is disbanded, it is no longer there. Individuals who were in the IRA at that time are getting on with their lives. Yet he [Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin] makes outlandish claims the IRA are involved in racketeering, criminality, which the PSNI say themselves is simply untrue,” he said.
Mr Doherty said the current situation is a “fake crisis” and accused unionist parties of putting their own interests before the peace process. He said Sinn Féin has a “democratic right” to be involved in powersharing and suggested people should pay more attention to “loyalist activity” including what he said was the UVF nailing someone “to a worktop counter” two weeks ago.
Asked whether former PIRA members still meet and if they are a threat, Mr Doherty said: “They didn’t all pass away, they didn’t all leave the island”, and “they’re still there”.
However, he said while they might “sit down to have a drink or meet at an event”, they have “disbanded”.
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