Garda never denied existence of Provisional IRA, says O’Sullivan
Commissioner confirms Garda has no intelligence to suggest ongoing military structure
Nóirín O’Sullivan: “Our security assessments will continue to be based on credible intelligence, hard facts and emerging evidence.” File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
The Garda Commissioner has said the Garda has never denied the existence of the Provisional IRA.
However in a statement on Wednesday night Nóirín O’Sullivan again confirmed the Garda has no intelligence to support the assertion that the IRA maintains its military structure. In March, she had also made this point in a letter to Sinn Féin TD Padraig Mac Lochlainn.
At the weekend PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said: “At this stage we assess that some Provisional IRA organisational infrastructure continues to exist but has undergone significant change since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998.”
Ms O’Sullivan, in her first statement on the matter, said her letter to the TD “did not deal with the question of whether PIRA continued to exist. Instead it dealt only with a specific question as to whether ‘the Provisional IRA still maintains its military structure and confines its criminal activities to fuel laundering, cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting’. It was stated in reply that An Garda Síochána held no information or intelligence to support that assertion. That reply was consistent with the findings of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) and An Garda Síochána’s own assessment of the intelligence.”
She said An Garda Síochána had been reluctant to comment on matters arising in relation to the investigation by the PSNI into the recent murder of former IRA man Kevin McGuigan as it was considered that it may not be helpful to them to do so.
However, she wanted to clear up the assertion by some that An Garda Síochána had denied the existence of the Provisional IRA.
“These comments appear to be based on a letter issued by An Garda Síochána to a public representative last February,” she said.
She said that letter went on to cite other findings of the IMC, including the fact that some former members of PIRA engaged in crime for personal gain, but without sanction or support from the organisation.
“The IMC’s reports concluded, amongst other things, that the so-called ‘military departments’ had been disbanded and the former terrorist capability had been lost. The IMC has not indicated at any time that PIRA had ceased to exist; nor has An Garda Síochána.
“The position of An Garda Síochána is that there has been no evidence available in this jurisdiction to call into question the assessment made by the IMC.
“An Garda Síochána, of course, keeps its security assessments under constant review and continues to do so particularly in the context of its liaison with the PSNI in relation to their investigation into the murder of Mr McGuigan. Our security assessments will continue to be based on credible intelligence, hard facts and emerging evidence.
“I will, of course, be informing the Minister for Justice and Equality, as she has requested, of any issues emerging in relation to that liaison in the context of the current investigation.”
She said that down through the years many members of An Garda Síochána paid the ultimate sacrifice at the hands of the Provisional IRA.
“It is wrong to suggest that An Garda Síochána would in any way turn a blind eye to the activities of any such organisation.
“I am also painfully conscious of the plight of victims of crimes and I can assure them that An Garda Síochána will continue to combat and investigate crime without fear or favour whatever the backgrounds of the people involved.”