Frances Fitzgerald asks gardaí to trace IRA cash

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has called on gardaí to examine where money held or obtained by the Provisional IRA has been placed, amid ongoing criticism from Sinn Féin over political attacks on the party.

The senior Cabinet member made the request as her Fine Gael party colleague, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said he is opposed to “car crash politics” before a crunch meeting with Northern Ireland’s secretary of state Theresa Villiers tomorrow.

Ms Fitzgerald said at the weekend she is “extremely concerned” that alleged criminality by former members of the Provisional IRA has the potential to “subvert democracy and law and order”.

In particular, the justice minister said she is “hugely concerned” about “the proceeds of crime and where it is finding its way to” and that she wants this to form part of any Garda investigation into the alleged ongoing existence of the Provisional IRA.

The claimed continuation of the paramilitary organisation in some form, despite its 2005 decommissioning, has caused uproar on both sides of the border since it was stated by PSNI chief constable Brian Hamilton 10 days ago.

However, speaking on Newstalk radio yesterday, Dublin-based Sinn Féin councillor Eoin Ó Broin said the question of where the money now rests is another attempt to damage his party.

Mr Ó Broin said if any Government member has information about the funds “they need to give that information to An Garda Síochána or the PSNI and let the police system” handle the matter, adding “it is telling ministers are giving this information to Sunday newspapers” instead of to investigating officers.

Meanwhile, Mr Flanagan said he is opposed to “car crash politics” which could bring down Stormont’s power-sharing government, but he insisted part of this issue is Sinn Féin’s failure to address clear problems in republicanism.

He said it is “incumbent on everybody to make sure we return to a recommitment of the basic principles” of the Good Friday Agreement.

However, he insisted that part of this recommitment includes Sinn Féin ending its “blatant denials” on issues in republicanism which he said are continuing to harm the peace process.

The minister said that despite Sinn Féin’s position that it wants anyone with information on criminality in republicanism to go to the relevant police authority, the party “needs to do more” to ensure this actually takes place.

He said this is a key part of ensuring the “restoration of a fast disappearing trust” in the Stormont assembly and must not be ignored.

Mr Flanagan and Ms Fitzgerald will meet Northern Ireland’s secretary of state Ms Villiers tomorrow before a scheduled cabinet meeting on Wednesday which is expected to be dominated by the recent controversy.

However, despite opposition calls for Taoiseach Enda Kenny to seek a meeting with British prime minister David Cameron, and both individuals speaking on a regular basis, a Government spokesperson said no decision on whether this will be required will be made until after tomorrow’s discussion with Ms Villiers.

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