Northern Ireland

Kevin McGuigan murder: Provisional IRA still exists, says PSNI chief

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption George Hamilton said there was no evidence the Provisional IRA sanctioned Kevin McGuigan Sr's killing

The chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has said the Provisional IRA still exists.

George Hamilton added that some of its members were involved in the murder of ex-IRA man Kevin McGuigan Sr last week.

But he said there is no evidence at this stage that the killing was sanctioned by the organisation.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said he did not accept Mr Hamilton's comments, adding that the IRA has "gone and [is] not coming back".

Mr Hamilton said that "some of the Provisional IRA structure from the 1990s remains broadly in place" but its purpose "has radically changed since this period".

The police assessment, he said, is that the Provisional IRA remains committed to politics and is not engaged in terrorism.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Gerry Adams rejected the chief constable's assessment and said the IRA "is not coming back"

"They are not on a war footing, they are not involved in paramilitary activity in the sense that they were during the period of the conflict," he said.

The IRA had ordered an end to its armed campaign in 2005.

Directed

Mr McGuigan, 53, died after he was shot at his home in east Belfast in what detectives believe was a revenge attack for the killing of former IRA commander Gerard 'Jock' Davison in Belfast in May.

The chief constable said the two murders were the results of a "fall-out" within the republican community.

"Some current Provisional IRA and former members continue to engage in a range of criminal activity and occasional violence in the interest of personal gain or personal agendas," he added.

Mr Hamilton said the PSNI had no information to suggest that "violence as seen in the murder of Kevin McGuigan" was "sanctioned or directed at a senior level" in the republican movement.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Gregory Campbell (second right) said he was not surprised by allegations of an IRA role in the killing

Mr Adams said Sinn Féin supported the police probe into the killing, but added that he disagreed with the chief constable's assessment of the status of the Provisional IRA.

"The war is over. The IRA is gone and not coming back. This has been acknowledged and evidenced over the past 10 years," he said.

"There is now a peaceful and democratic path to achieve republican objectives.

"[Sinn Féin's] integrity is based on our electoral mandate and not on the views of anyone else, even a chief constable."

Tatters

The main unionist and nationalist parties met with Mr Hamilton on Saturday to discuss the murder investigation.

The DUP's Gregory Campbell said his party would be meeting with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers about the alleged role of IRA members in the killing.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Police believe Mr McGuigan Sr's murder was in revenge for the killing of a former IRA commander

He added that there was no surprise among his party at the suggestions of IRA involvement.

The Ulster Unionist Party also met with Mr Hamilton on Saturday.

Party leader Mike Nesbitt said afterwards that Sinn Féin's credibility was "in tatters" and it needed to "accept some responsibility" for Mr McGuigan Sr's killing.

"They continue to insult our intelligence by claiming no IRA involvement in this latest murder," Mr Nesbitt said.

After the SDLP's meeting with the chief constable, its leader Alasdair McDonnell said the "skeleton" of the IRA remains in existence.

But he said the evidence was not there to collapse the assembly.

That came in response to comments from First Minister Peter Robinson, who said he would discuss the prospect of excluding Sinn Féin from the executive with other Northern Ireland parties.

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