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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 15 July, 2020

Who runs Sinn Féin?

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everyone’s talking about…

The findings of reports on Provisional IRA, and the implications it has for Sinn Féin.

Sinn Fein delegation meet Taoiseach Source: PA WIRE

According to MI5 and police, they haven’t completely gone away.

Their evidence in an independent report yesterday into the activities of paramilitaries in Northern Ireland found that the PIRA still exists, but as a shell of what it once was and is now focused on political activities.

It was a different story south of the border. Gardaí said that although the criminal activities of former members isn’t uncommon, the organisation is not active in the south.

However, what is likely to become a narrative for the upcoming general election is what the first report means for Sinn Féin. One line has dealt the party a blow in its attempts to distance itself from republican paramilitaries:

PIRA members believe that the Provisional Army Council oversees both PIRA and Sinn Féin with an overarching strategy.

The party is denying that this is the case. Mary Lou McDonald told the Irish Daily Mail that she is only accountable to the electorate. MLA Conor Murphy appeared on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland to say he doesn’t draw guidance from any organisation other than the party.

Martin McGuinness said in a statement yesterday that “Sinn Féin is now the only organisation involved in the Republican struggle and in Republican activism”.

Discussing the report in the Dáil yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny turned the spotlight on the party’s previous statements on the existence, saying these are simply not credible:

There may have been a time when living with constructive ambiguity helped the peace process, but that time has now passed.

DUP leader Peter Robinson, although accepting to return to government in the North, said there’s “no difference” between IRA and Sinn Féin leadership.

Although the Republic’s report into paramilitary activity was less of a bombshell than Northern Ireland’s, it is likely the question of who really runs Sinn Féin will stick with them over the coming months.

The agenda

  • It’s a busy morning at the Transport and Communications committee. From 9.30am, Kieran Mulvey of Sports Ireland will be in the hotseat, with Billy Walsh’s departure likely to feature. After this, representatives from Volkswagen representatives will be questioned on the emissions scandal.
  • At the same time in the Dáil, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs James Reilly is taking questions on his portfolio.
  • Leaders’ Questions kicks off at 12pm.
  • At 5pm, the Seanad will discuss ratifying a 1999 United Nations declaration on the wellbeing of older people.
  • Fianna Fáil’s private members motion in the lower house calling for an inquiry into the sale of Project Eagle will be discussed at 7.30pm.
  • At the Justice committee, there will be scrutiny of the Victims of Crime Bill at 10am when representatives from organisations including the Rape Crisis Centre and ISPCC appear.

Inside Leinster House

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae is not one bit impressed about the changes RTÉ is making to the Angelus. He believes there is value in this moment of reflection, and that any attempt to “water down” the current format should be resisted.

What the others are saying

  • A row has broken out between Ministers Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin over the appointment of the new Central Bank governor, the Irish Independent reports, with Howlin arguing someone with more managerial experience was needed.
  • Bertie Ahern comments appear across several papers, ranging from saying that three elections in 18 months is a possibility in the Irish Independent to saying Sinn Féin is still led by the IRA army council in The Irish Times.
  • Minister Alan Kelly’s rent control plans might not have full support from his party, as a Labour spokesperson told the Irish Examiner that that can’t guarantee it will happen. 
  • Documents seen by The Irish Times reveal correspondence from the Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary to the Taoiseach during abortion legislation controversy, telling him to feel “free to exercise your own conscience”.

In case you missed it

Good day for…

Bertie Ahern. After speaking to journalists at a book launch last night he is receiving wall-to-wall coverage across the media today.

Bad day for…

Labour TD John Lyons. He’s stuck in traffic.

On the Twitter machine…

Halloween isn’t an easy time to be out on the doorsteps.

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About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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