North in Crisis: Who should we believe?

The crisis in the North is growing, with statements coming from all sides, but who should we believe?

North in Crisis: Who should we believe?

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams

I do not accept the PSNI claims about the IRA. The war is over. The IRA is gone and not coming back.

This has been acknowledged and evidenced over the past 10 years. There is now a peaceful and democratic path to achieve republican objectives. This has the support of the vast majority of republicans and nationalists.

Those individuals who do not embrace this and are pursuing their own agendas do not represent republicanism and should be held to account by the criminal justice system.

Recent mischievous speculation and the use of these tragic deaths by other political parties is self-serving and wholly cynical.

The actions of individual criminal elements or gangs must not be allowed to derail the peace and political process.

Sinn Féin have and will continue to support the PSNI in bringing those involved in the killings of Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan to justice and we have consistently called for anyone with any information connected to the investigation to bring it forward.

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley

It [ Garda review of potential Provisional IRA activity in the Republic] will show the army was stood down 10 years ago, that it doesn’t exist. That the mainstream of republicanism became involved totally in the republican process, and that’s where it’s going, and that’s what people are busy doing within Sinn Féin.

There may be some other groups masquerading... as some kind of IRA or some other type of organisation, such as the Real IRA, so-called Real IRA or the Continuity IRA, or whatever they like to call themselves. But... what I would say to those people is that they should disband, they should go away. They have no contribution... to make to society.

Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

The fact of the matter is the IRA no longer exists. Sinn Féin would under no circumstances have any truck with any organisation or individuals who would be involved in those type of activities. People who are involved in the murders of Kevin McGuigan and Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison, they are criminals, they are not republicans, and we have called on the community to support the PSNI in bringing those responsible to justice

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton

At this stage we assess that some Provisional IRA organisational infrastructure continues to exist but has undergone significant change since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998. Some, primarily operational level structures, were changed and some elements have been dissolved completely since 2005.

We assess that in the organisational sense the PIRA does not exist for paramilitary purposes. Nevertheless, we assess that in common with the majority of Northern Ireland paramilitary groups from the period of the conflict, some of the PIRA structure remains broadly in place, although its purpose has radically changed...

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt

What we continue to hear from Gerry Adams is his single transferable speech of denial. And frankly it won’t wash anymore. He has a long history of being consistently wrong when it comes to prevaricating on whether the IRA were up to their necks in crime or not, be it murder, robbery or money laundering.

This is typical of Gerry Adams — ignoring reality and trying to deflect attention from what is there for all to see. Whether it was the murders of Paul Quinn or Robert McCartney, the case of the Columbia Three ‘birdwatchers’, the Northern Bank robbery or last week’s murder, Gerry Adams’ claims lack any credibility.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly

He’s [PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton] wrong because the IRA has left the stage, the IRA has gone. There are many republicans, including myself, who were in the IRA who joined Sinn Féin who were involved in the peace process and put all our energies into that. The evidence over the last 10 years is that it does not exist.

To be very clear... whoever was involved, whatever they claim for themselves in terms of the two killings and the two families now grieving, this society has moved past killing...We should be joining together to make sure everybody is of one voice and that the people who were involved in these killings be taken off the street.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers

My understanding is, very much in line with that of the chief constable, a number of the organisational structures of the Provisional IRA still exist but that there is no evidence it’s involved in terrorism or paramilitary activity. I think the crucial thing for politics in Northern Ireland is that all political parties support and embrace the principles of democracy and consent. I’m satisfied that is the case in terms of the parties in the Assembly. Were it to change in future that would obviously have very serious implications, but it is clearly the case, as far as I can see, that all the parties in the Executive support the Belfast Agreement ...

Environment Minister Alan Kelly

What we need to hear is that members of the IRA are not involved in murder, in drugs, in a whole load of other criminal activities ... I come from a generation of remembering all the atrocities as I was growing up and thankfully we’ve gone past all of that. What he [Gerry Adams] needs to say is that they actually don’t exist anymore and I challenge him to say that. Not that they have gone away, not they have decommissioned, we know all of that.

Defence Minister Simon Coveney

We are expected to believe that every time Sinn Féin come under pressure on this issue that they’re telling the truth and everybody else has a political agenda.

We have a leader of Sinn Féin who still tells people that he was never a member of the IRA and yet at the weekend talks about the IRA as an undefeated army.

Sinn Féin have an obligation to do more to convince and assure people that they have broken the link with violence that they clearly had in the past and this idea that Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin can say that they’re now community workers and they’re working in GAA clubs and they’re working in soccer clubs I don’t think is credible, quite frankly.

Tánaiste Joan Burton

While I accept the assessments of the PSNI and the gardaí that the PIRA is no longer involved in terrorist activity, that is of little comfort given that members of the organisation are clearly involved in serious criminality... While everyone acknowledges that Northern Ireland no longer faces the kind of paramilitary threat that the IRA once posed, its communities are still at risk from an organisation linked to murder and racketeering. This is an insidious threat to Northern Ireland’s future as a healthy, stable democracy, and therefore a threat to the whole of this island. It is therefore not good enough for Sinn Féin to deny all knowledge of P IRA criminality and pretend it simply doesn’t exist.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin

Gerry Adams attacked me when I voiced fears about the role of the PIRA in deciding Sinn Féin strategy and policy earlier this year. He dismissed my claims and made personal attacks in what is now a well-worn routine. At the weekend, he attempted to begin the same process with the [PSNI] chief constable, dismissing his claims and thereby challenging his professionalism and integrity. [He] is essentially asking the Irish people to trust his word, over the word of the most senior PSNI officers... When people look back over his record of comments about the PIRA, its involvement in various crimes, and his association with that organisation, they are unlikely to oblige.

Former justice minister Michael McDowell

The governments took the view that an inert, freeze-dried husk of the IRA was preferable to passing the ideological torch to thedissidents. The analogy that was used... was that it would become like the “Old IRA”, a harmless grouping... What this week’s events have proved is that any evidence the IRA has resiled from its position that it would simply “go away” would be fatal to Sinn Féin.. . Sinn Féin pressed for the abolition of the Independent Monitoring Commission. Its abolition leaves us back where we were prior to its creation: dependant on the police forces and their ministers for an assessment of the existence of and responsibility for paramilitary crime.

Former US envoy Mitchell Reiss

Mr Reiss has said that, at the time of decommissioning in 2005, Gerry Adams made a last-minute request that the IRA be allowed to keep some of its arms to protect itself from dissident republicans.

“While the British government seemed willing to entertain such a proposal, the Irish government at my insistence stuck to the point that the IRA must decommission all weapons in its possession,” he told The Irish Times.

Mr Reiss said then justice minister Michael McDowell deserved “full credit for being Horatio at the bridge” for refusing to budge on the issue. A spokesman Mr Adams has dismissed the claim as “rubbish” and being without “a scintilla of truth”.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

There is no doubt that people who have been associated with the Provisional IRA have been — and continue to be — involved in the most serious crime and neither Gerry Adams nor Sinn Féin can wash their hands of responsibility for that.

It is an inevitable legacy of the brutal campaign which the PIRA waged. And it is fair to ask Sinn Féin how they intend to address a legacy they are responsible for. It is a legacy of evasion which was bound to have people suspect a ballot box in one hand and sleight of hand with the other.

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

What steps does Sinn Féin take to ensure that they do not benefit in any way from the proceeds of crime? Will he apologise for the fact that people who PIRA trained to kill may be continuing to do so in whatever capacity? And will he explain what parts of smuggling and money laundering ever honoured the legacy of 1916 which his party wish to hijack?

RELATED: North in Crisis: UUP to quit Stormont as Executive plunged into turmoil

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RELATED: North in Crisis: Provos ‘effectively’ stood down but hardliners still use violence, says Michael McDowell

RELATED: North in Crisis: Review of Provisional IRA has integrity, says Coveney

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