IRA not involved in any activity ‘whatsoever’ - Adams
McGuigan murder ‘wrong and those involved are criminals not representing republicanism’
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams participates in a national hunger strike commemoration march in Dundalk on Sunday, August 23rd, 2015. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams TD has insisted “the IRA has gone away” and was not involved in the killing of Belfast man Kevin McGuigan or engaged in any other activities “whatsoever”.
Addressing a crowd of up to 1,000 Sinn Féin members in pouring rain at a hunger strike commemoration rally in Dundalk, he said the murder was “wrong and those who were involved in it are criminals who do not represent republicanism”.
The IRA, he said, had gone away “undefeated” in the interests of the peace process.
Mr Adams was responding after PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said on Saturday that “some Provisional IRA organisational infrastructure continues to exist”.
DUP leader Peter Robinson had said Sinn Féin may have to be excluded from government in Northern Ireland if the IRA was still active, in the wake of the killing of Mr McGuigan. Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt sad Sinn Féin’s credibility was “in tatters” on the issue.
Mr Adams broke off a holiday to attend the hunger strike commemoration, where his intention of commenting on the crisis was flagged in advance.
However, Mr Adams declined to answer questions from reporters before and after his speech.
In his address, he accused opposition forces - who he said had “opportunistically and cynically seized on the killing of Kevin McGuigan” - of a “deliberate effort to undermine Sinn Féin’s mandate, the rights and entitlements of our electorate, and the peace process”.
“In July 2005 the IRA left the stage. Its leadership ordered an end to the armed campaign; its representatives to ‘engage with the IICD [Independent International Commission on Decommissioning] to complete the process to verifiably put its arms beyond use’ and instructed its volunteers to take part only in ‘purely political and democratic programmes’ and no ‘other activities whatsoever,” Mr Adams said.
He warned that “anyone who threatens to take action against Sinn Féin in the Assembly and Executive have no basis whatsoever for this. Sinn Féin’s mandate and the rights and entitlements of our electorate deserve exactly the same respect and protection as anyone else’s.”
In his statement, Mr Hamilton had said the PSNI assessment was that the IRA did not exist for paramilitary purposes. “Nevertheless,” he added, “we assess that in common with the majority of Northern Ireland paramilitary groups from the period of the conflict, some of the PIRA structure from the 1990s remains broadly in place - although its purpose has radically changed since this period”.