Bobby Storey: The IRA is ‘stood down’ and has left stage

Martin McGuinness asks whether ‘agents’ hostile to Sinn Féin were involved in murder

Sinn Féin’s northern chairman Bobby Storey speaks during a press conference at the Roddy McCorley Social Club in west Belfast. Photograph: PA

Sinn Féin’s northern chairman Bobby Storey speaks during a press conference at the Roddy McCorley Social Club in west Belfast. Photograph: PA

 

Senior republican Bobby Storey who was arrested in connection with the murder of Kevin McGuigan and then released unconditionally has stated that the Provisional IRA is stood down and gone away.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at a west Belfast press conference on Sunday also raised the issue of whether “agents” were implicated in the murder of Mr McGuigan and Gerard Jock Davison in order to politically damage Sinn Féin and also Peter Robinson and the DUP.

“There is no role for the IRA, the IRA is gone,” said Mr Storey, when speaking about the PSNI chief constable’s assessment that the IRA still exists, and that some of its members were involved in the murder of Belfast republican Mr McGuigan, although acting without the authority of the IRA leadership.

“I think the chief constable and other perspectives out there see this in terms of the IRA being the caterpillar that is still there. What I think is that it’s moved on, it’s become a butterfly, it’s flew away, it’s gone, it’s disappeared,” added Mr Storey.

At another stage of the press conference he said, “The IRA is gone. The IRA is stood down, they have put their arms beyond use, they have left the stage, they’re away and they are not coming back. So there is no current status of the IRA. There are no IRA members. The IRA has gone.”

Mr Storey and two other senior republicans, Brian Gillen and Eddie Copeland, were arrested last week in connection with Mr McGuigan’s murder and then released “unconditionally”.

Mr Storey said “absolutely not” when asked was he involved in any “review” into the murder in of senior Belfast republican Gerard Jock Davison in the Markets in central Belfast. Last month’s murder of Mr McGuigan is believed by the police to have been a revenge killing for Mr Davison’s murder.

“I have not been involved in any review or any process which is associated to the murder of Jock Davison,” said Mr Storey.

The Sinn Féin Northern chairman Mr Storey joined Sinn Féin leaders such as party president Gerry Adams, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and TD Mary Lou McDonald at the Roddy McCorley social club in west Belfast for the press conference.

Mr Storey said the killers of Mr Davison and Mr McGuigan were “criminals and enemies of the Sinn Féin peace strategy”.

Of his arrest and release last week Mr Storey said he has instructed his solicitor John Finucane to take legal proceedings against the chief constable.

“At no time during my detention did the police present a shred of evidence or intelligence, which in either my opinion or the opinion of my solicitor, warranted my arrest,” he said. “Questions must be asked about the timing and nature of my wrongful arrest.”

Of the current political crisis following from the murder of Mr McGuigan and the chief constable’s IRA assessment Mr Storey said “the political process should not be held to ransom by criminals”.

“I absolutely reject the attempts of the unionist parties to cynically use these murders and my wrongful detention to threaten the political institutions,” he added.

“The behaviour of the unionist parties, who have cynically used my arrest to pull down the political institutions, has been nothing short of disgraceful. They have succeeded only in holding the political process to ransom and providing encouragement to the dissident elements and the criminals who murdered Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan.

Mr Storey also complained that he had been “subjected to trial by media by sections of the media”.

Deputy First Minister Mr McGuinness also raised the question as to whether “criminals, agents or dissidents” were implicated in the killings of Mr McGuigan and Mr Davison.

“The more I consider and the more I think about how all this began ... you’d need to be stupid not to be asking the question, whose agenda is best served by those murders. It certainly was not our agenda, it wasn’t the Sinn Féin agenda, it was not the Sinn Féin peace process strategy agenda and in my opinion it was not Peter Robinson’s agenda either,” said Mr McGuinness.

“This is something has caused huge problems for us,” he added.

Mr McGuinness raised “the prospect that agents were involved, people who are hostile to the peace process, who are hostile to Sinn Féin’s involvement in the political institutions”.

“The people who are responsible for those murders are criminals, agents, dissidents; they are certainly not supporters of ours,” he added.

“There is a very real prospect that the people who murdered Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan had their own agenda, and it was an anti-Sinn Féin agenda, it was an anti-institutions agenda, and it was clearly something that has at least put some within unionism at a huge disadvantage,” said Mr McGuinness.

Of Mr Storey’s arrest the Sinn Féin president Mr Adams said, “Don’t miss the point that an awful lot of republicans were angered by Bobby’s arrest and Bobby Storey is saying very, very clearly, ‘I support the PSNI. Yes I have issues with them but I want to see the murderers brought to book’. Don’t miss that as a key and very important point in all of this,” said Mr Adams.