Northern Ireland

Kevin McGuigan: Reaction to PSNI's assessment on murder

Kevin McGuigan Sr was shot dead at his home at Comber Court in east Belfast last week Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Kevin McGuigan Sr was shot dead at his home at Comber Court in east Belfast last week

There has been strong political reaction to the police's assessment that they believe Provisional IRA members were involved in the murder of Kevin McGuigan Sr in east Belfast.

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness said those who killed Mr McGuigan and Gerard 'Jock' Davison were criminals and "must be brought to justice".

The DUP, Sinn Féin and the SDLP said they wanted a meeting with the PSNI chief constable.

Mr McGuigan Sr was shot dead last week.

DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said on Thursday night that he had engaged in an initial discussion with the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton.

He said that before the return of the assembly from recess his party would seek a further update from Mr Hamilton "to establish his conclusion regarding those responsible and the role of those in the republican movement who are associated with Sinn Féin".

"As I indicated in my press briefing last week there can be no place for terror and murderous activity on our streets and republicans cannot be in the executive in circumstances where this murder was the work of the Provisional IRA," he added.

Image caption DUP leader Peter Robinson said he had engaged in an initial discussion with the PSNI chief constable

Mr Robinson said the DUP would have discussions with other parties "about tabling the necessary exclusion motion in the assembly and asking the Secretary of State to intervene in circumstances where the evidence points to the IRA being involved".

Earlier, DUP MP Gregory Campbell told BBC Radio Ulster's Evening Extra that his party also wanted to meet the Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers. He said that independent assessment was needed on the IRA's status.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly insisted later that the IRA no longer exists and asked for a meeting with Mr Hamilton.

He described the PSNI's statement as "contradictory".

"The IRA has gone, it has left the stage, it made a statement in July 2005, saying it was gone," Mr Kelly added.

"The IRA has left the stage - full stop. It is not an organisation today."

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said he thought it was a "stark statement" from the PSNI that could not be "allowed to linger in the public domain without further investigation and further explanation".

"The proper political reaction depends on the actual facts and if it was an own initiative by members of the IRA on the ground and that the leadership of Sinn Féin had no knowledge of it then that is one thing," he added.

"If it was sanctioned or ordered by leading members of the republican movement and there was political awareness of what was happening then that is a much different situation."

SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell said he welcomed the assessment by the PSNI and would be seeking an urgent meeting with the chief constable.

'Face up to reality'

"I welcome this assessment by the police which is compatible with what people on the street already know," he added.

"The Provisional IRA in whatever form it exists, despite whatever contortions it may have gone through, still appears to claim the right to exercise life and death decisions over anyone in the community that they develop a grudge against."

Image caption North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly said he believed the PSNI statement was contradictory

Alliance MLA Stephen Farry said it was "very worrying and significant that the police have said they are following a definite line of inquiry relating to people who may be members of the Provisional IRA".

He said it was important that further clarity was provided "as soon as possible".

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister said it was "time for unionists who work the Belfast Agreement to face up to reality".

UKIP leader in Northern Ireland, David McNarry, said the PSNI's assessment left "no room for Sinn Féin to manoeuvre politically".

The Northern Ireland Office said as the murder was currently under investigation by the PSNI "it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage".

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