Micheál Martin criticises Theresa Villiers over IRA response

He said her comments that IRA was still in existence “left an awful lot to be desired”

Michéal Martin: the Fianna Fáil leader called for urgent talks between the Irish and British governments.

Michéal Martin: the Fianna Fáil leader called for urgent talks between the Irish and British governments.

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has criticised Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers for her response to the PSNI’s assessment that IRA members were involved in the killing of Kevin McGuigan.

Mr Martin called for urgent talks between the British and Irish governments to discuss the implications of PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton’s statement that the IRA still exists. At the weekend Mr Hamilton said some IRA members were involved in the killing of former IRA man Mr McGuigan in Belfast this month, but added that there was no evidence at this stage that the IRA sanctioned his killing.

Ms Villiers accepted Mr Hamilton’s assessment, and said there should be no surprise that some IRA structures still existed. She accepted that Sinn Féin remained committed to the principles of democracy and consent, while adding: “We do have to look at the evidence and the facts, and the Chief Constable of the PSNI was very clear at the weekend there isn’t evidence that this crime was sanctioned or authorised by the Provisional IRA as an organisation.”

Very worrying

“The comments and the manner in which Theresa Villiers responded to the crisis yesterday in my view left an awful lot to be desired,” Mr Martin told BBC Radio Ulster yesterday.

“I think we are at a new juncture here where both governments now seem to be implicitly accepting the existence of the IRA, and by implication almost condoning it, on the basis that they are not engaged in the terrorism or the widespread murder and mayhem of yesteryear but rather have a different purpose.

“My view is that in the era of today the maintenance of such an army and command structure is absolutely unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.”

He said it was completely contrary to normal principles of democracy and the rule of law.