SF should avail of report on IRA by ‘telling the truth’
Alasdair McDonnell says report confirms IRA went away but ‘they didn’t go too far’
SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell: said the IRA “went around the corner and joined Sinn Féin as they had been told to do, and now they are leafleting and electioneering”. Photograph: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Sinn Féin should take advantage of the British government-appointed panel’s report on the status of the IRA and the other paramilitaries by “just telling the truth”, the SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell has urged.
As the political talks aimed at resolving issues over paramilitarism, the past and welfare reform continued at Stormont, Dr McDonnell said the report published on Tuesday demonstrated the IRA “went away all right, but confirms that they didn’t go too far”.
“But that also means that people who are presently in the party and knocking on our doors have intimate knowledge of the crimes of the dirty war. Older members know who shot Jean McConville in the head, who mowed down the factory workers at Kingsmill,” he added.
“Younger ones know who killed Robert McCartney and Paul Quinn, who robbed Makro and the Gallahers cigarette lorries and the Northern Bank. It doesn’t really matter now whether Gerry Adams was ever in the Provisional IRA. A whole lot of his members definitely were and they don’t even bother to deny it,” he said.
Dr McDonnell commended the “straight-talking report”. “First of all it provides no comfort for anyone who would seek to deny Sinn Féin’s mandate by excluding the party from government. It has hard words to say about loyalism, which unionism will need to address.
Dr McDonnell said it was a pity the panel had not followed the “money trail” further. “The money from those robberies did not just evaporate, it was invested in front businesses and it funded further illegal activities such as diesel laundering, which is being carried out with Pira personnel, infrastructure and muscle,” he continued.
“The Sinn Féin leadership say there is no evidence for all this . . . There is no evidence because a considerable proportion of their members are still bound by the secrecy oath they swore when they joined the IRA,” Dr McDonnell added.