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Coveney: Comments about Provisional IRA criminal activity 'of real concern'

The Defence Minister said the Irish government must remain very cautious when responding to the PSNI chief’s comments.
Aug 23rd 2015, 3:53 PM 14,318 197

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE Simon Coveney has said comments made by PSNI chief George Hamilton about the activities of the Provisional IRA and its contined existence have been taken on board by the Irish Government.

Hamilton yesterday confirmed earlier PSNI comments about connections between an organised crime group and members of the PIRA which had been established over the course of an investigation into Kevin McGuigan’s murder.

Speaking to RTÉ’s This Week earlier today, Coveney said it should be noted that Hamilton was clear that in an organisation sense the PIRA does not exist for paramilitary purposes.

However he said the part of the statement yesterday “of real concern” was that which pointed to some current or former members who continue to engage in “a range of criminal activity and occasional violence” for their own personal gain.

However he said the Irish government does not want to add to a difficult situation as the PSNI works to conclude its investigation.

He said that “clearly” there are elements that were previously part of the formal structures of the IRA in the Republic but that all agencies were clear about the organisation in terms of terrorist activities.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams yesterday released a statement of his own following Hamilton’s, asserting he did not accept the PSNI claims about the IRA.

The war is over. The IRA is gone and not coming back. This has been acknowledged and evidenced over the past 10 years. There is now a peaceful and democratic path to achieve republican objectives. This has the support of the vast majority of republicans and nationalists.

“Those individuals who do not embrace this and are pursuing their own agendas do not represent republicanism and should be held to account by the criminal justice system.”

He added that the actions of individual criminal elements or gangs must not be allowed to derail the peace and political process.

Read: The Provisional IRA still exists but it’s ‘no longer engaged in terrorism’ >

Read: Gerry Adams: The IRA had nothing to do with Kevin McGuigan’s murder>

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Michelle Hennessy

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