NI paramilitary activity: Political reaction to assessment report


A round-up of reaction to the official assessment that the IRA's ruling body, the 'army council' still exists, but has a "wholly political focus".

Nigel Dodds, Democratic Unionist Party

image captionNigel Dodds said the report findings were 'totally unacceptable'

"The report demonstrates the scale of the work that lies ahead in the talks process.

"On the IRA, while the report says it is committed to the peace process and recognises the lack of recruitment, procurement of weapons and so on, nevertheless, it clearly sets out the continuing existence of paramilitary structures and illegal activity by members of the IRA.

"This is totally unacceptable and it is beyond high time that it was ended in all its forms - terrorism and criminality."

image captionMartin McGuinness was reacting to a statement given by Theresa Villiers

"Sinn Féin is the only republican organisation involved in the peace process, in democratic politics and in political activism.

"We take no instructions from no-one else. We all have a responsibility to deal with these issues to tackle criminality and bring paramilitarism to an end."

image captionJim Allister said the question was whether the DUP would continue to sustain government with Sinn Féin

"Now we know, thanks to a report the DUP requested that, not only does the IRA army council exist but it continues to "oversee" Sinn Féin/IRA strategy.

"The question now is will the DUP continue to sustain them in government?"

image captionMark Durkan made his comments in the House of Commons

"The assessment proves that there is a need for a whole community approach to making sure that we eradicate all traces of malignant paramilitarism.

"We need to see a whole enforcing approach by policing and revenue channels against any level of criminality.

"We have to be absolutely clear, no level of crime can be treated as par for the course in a peace process."

image captionMike Nesbitt welcomed the publication of the report on paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland

"The position of the Ulster Unionist Party has been entirely vindicated.

"The report has highlighted in the starkest terms the issue for Sinn Féin. How can they continue to deny the IRA doesn't exist when this report makes clear Sinn Féin are being overseen by the IRA's army council?

"This blows a hole in Sinn Féin's argument."

image captionDavid Ford said the report contained "some deeply disturbing findings"

"The assessment states that the most serious current threat is posed by dissident republicans.

"That threat requires a robust criminal justice response.

"While I note from the assessment that loyalist groups and PIRA at a leadership level are committed to peace, the assessment includes some deeply disturbing findings."

image captionDavid McNarry says there is no place for paramilitarism in society

"Let me say paramilitarism has no place in a resurgent Northern Ireland.

"The IRA cannot exist in any shape or form nor can it be legalised.

"Loyalist groups have at least openly declared their intentions, but it remains to be seen how effective their actions will be."

image captionCharlie Flanagan has described the report as a 'sobering read'

"The assessment of various paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland carried out by the PSNI and the British security services, and published today by the British government, makes for sobering reading.

"The assessment underscores the critical importance of the political talks process currently underway in Northern Ireland.

"All participants in the Stormont House talks have a duty of care to the people of this island to bring an end to the remaining blight of paramilitarism in communities."

image captionEnda Kenny spoke about the reports findings in the Dail

Speaking in the Dáil, the Taoiseach said the report on paramilitarism in Northern Ireland "clearly raises matters of very serious concern".

"Issues about the existence of illegal organisations and command structures; about access to weaponry and about widespread criminality.

"These things have no place, and can have no place, in our democracy.

"The future of the peace process depends on their being removed once and for all."

image captionVernon Coaker believes that the majority of people in NI want paramilitarism to come to an end

"Paramilitary activity has no place in Northern Ireland.

"The vast majority of people don't want it and I believe neither do their politicians.

"No paramilitary activity is acceptable whether it is remnants of the IRA or loyalist paramilitaries."

image captionUS Envoy to Northern Ireland, former Senator Gary Hart assisted in last year's Stormont House Agreement talks

"This report - taken as a whole - can help guide the parties' ongoing efforts to reach an agreement to implement the Stormont House Agreement fully and to address the continuing presence of remnant paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland.

"This report underscores the importance of countering paramilitarism and organised crime so that the rule of law can be applied fairly throughout Northern Ireland.

"We urge all parties to redouble their efforts to bring ongoing cross-party negotiations to a successful conclusion soon."

More on this story