The opposition TD made the controversial claims — described by Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly as a “scurrilous attack” without foundation — as Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton said it is time for Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams to resign.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s News at One, Mr Martin said is is “my observation” that “from the Northern Bank robbery onwards there are links in terms of what is going on from activities of the IRA and fundraising”.
The Cork South Central TD said while he does not have hard proof “I’ve spoken to people on the ground and various intelligence [groups], people who won’t come forward because of fear, because of intimidation” who have made the claims.
Mr Martin said that as a former foreign affairs minister, a portfolio which includes responsibility for Northern Ireland issues, he has “very severe doubts about that operation” and there are “questions about the fundraising capacity of Sinn Féin, the enormous resources they have”.
Challenged on the issue by the programme’s presenter, Richard Crowley, about the Northern Rock claim and any proof the Fianna Fáil leader has, Mr Martin said there is a need to ask “where did the money go”. Fianna Fáil sources are of the view that while the issue warrants discussion, the immediate priority should be on the current political crisis and the murders of two people in Belfast.
However, the remarks were strongly rejected by Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly on the same programme, who said the claims are a “scurrilous attack” focussed solely on “electioneering” by Mr Martin.
“I don’t know when all this came to him, but Micheál Martin was involved in the Hillsborough negotiations in 2010 [on passing over policing and justice responsibilities in Northern Ireland.
“Was he blindsided then, or was it just there wasn’t an election at that time,” he said. Asked about two recent murders in Belfast, Mr Kelly said he does “not care where this evidence goes” and anyone involved should be “taken off the street”.
The claims were made as Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton said Gerry Adams should step down unless he can provide definitive evidence “Sinn Féin or its provisional wing” are not involved in crime.
“In a functioning democracy there can be no association between political parties and organised crime. If politics is not to fall into disrepute there must not even be the hint of such a link,” she said.
Fianna Fáil has called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to make a public statement on the controversy on claims that elements of the Provisional IRA are still in existence after failing to comment on the matter to date.