DUP seizes on leaks about the IRA

 

Claims included in a leaked security assessment that the IRA used Colombia as a training ground and testing area for weapons have been seized on by the DUP.

Mr Peter Robinson, the party's deputy leader and a minister in the Executive, said allegations he made last year were shown to be true.

These were that the IRA was involved in Colombia, that it was training FARC guerrillas, that it was experimenting for its own campaign and that the operation was sanctioned by the IRA army council.

Mr Robinson said the security assessment endorsed his claims and proved the Northern Secretary's stance on the IRA "has descended into farce".

He further claimed: "The Ulster Unionist tactic of giving the republican movement the benefit of the doubt on every occasion has been proved to be a monumental folly."

Ulster Unionists, however, called on the British Prime Minister to act to prevent "a catastrophic loss of confidence" in the peace process.

Mr Sam Foster, an Assembly member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, echoed the sentiments of his party leader, Mr David Trimble, and fellow MLA, Mr Michael McGimpsey. "The Prime Minister has got to create confidence in the community in Northern Ireland that the law will be observed and will be enforced, and when republicans are found to be behaving in a way that is contrary to their undertakings, that he will act."

The Deputy First Minister and leader of the SDLP, Mr Mark Durkan, asked if there was anything new in the latest leaks concerning the IRA's FARC connections. Mr Durkan also referred to the possible motives of those who leaked the security assessment in the first place.

"We have never been in denial about the IRA and other paramilitaries being active, but equally, we have been clear that those in intelligence and security circles have their own agenda to pursue," he said.

"We cannot allow the untoward activities or the ulterior motives of people in the darker corners of the peace process to undermine the central value of the political process."

However, Sinn Féin's Mr Martin McGuinness accused journalists of irresponsible behaviour through use of "anonymous security sources".

"I am absolutely dismayed that the BBC thinks it is sensible, at a critical time in our peace process, to be running unattributable, mischievous reports from elements within the British military establishment," Mr McGuinness said.