IRA membership will continue to be illegal - McDowell


The IRA will continue to be deemed an illegal organisation despite its decision to disband, Minister for Justice Michael McDowell said today.

Mr McDowell said that even if the group decommissioned its weapons, it would still be an offence to be a member.

"The IRA remains an illegal organisation because its constitution is treasonable under the laws of this State," he said.

He also said that the Government and the head of the Independent International Commission for Decommissioning, General John De Chastelain, could not be certain that the IRA had decommissioned its arsenal which includes assault rifles, heavy machine guns, Semtex explosive and surface-to-air missiles.

"Obviously in one technical sense it is impossible for him, you, me or anybody to know what’s hidden somewhere under a stone in a cave in the middle of some mountain range. We can’t be certain," he said.

In an interview with RTE this afternoon, he added that he expected the IRA’s decommissioning to take place in the near future.

"I expect it to be one sequence of events and I expect it to be in a fairly rapid order. Obviously I don’t expect it all to be done by one single press of a button or one single act of decommissioning in one single place."