Statement from Garda Commissioner Noírín O’Sullivan
The Commissioner speaks out on whether the Provisional IRA structures continue to exist
Garda Commissioner Noírín O’Sullivan issues statement. File photograph:Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times
An Garda Síochána has been reluctant to comment on matters arising in relation to the investigation by our colleagues in the Police Service in Northern Ireland into the recent murder of Mr Kevin McGuigan as it was considered that it may not be helpful to them to do so.
However, it has been asserted by some that An Garda Síochána has 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.
In fact, that letter 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.
Indeed, the reply went on to cite other findings of the Commission, 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.
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.