Politicians must dissociate from paramilitaries – Kenny

Sinn Féin mantra that IRA has now gone away ‘simply not credible’, claims Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: Time for “constructive ambiguity” in relation to issues such as the existence of the IRA were long past. Photograph: The Irish Times

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: Time for “constructive ambiguity” in relation to issues such as the existence of the IRA were long past. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Democratic politicians must dissociate themselves fully from paramilitary organisations, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny said in Cambridge on Friday night.

Mr Kenny added that statements that the IRA had “gone away” were simply not credible.

The Taoiseach told the annual conference of the British Irish Association (BIA) last night that the time for “constructive ambiguity” in relation to issues such as the existence of the IRA were long past.

“Statements to the effect that the IRA have gone away or have left the stage are simply not credible,” he told the BIA, which meets annually in either Cambridge or Oxford, generally to consider matters relating to the peace process.

“Let me be clear. It is the responsibility of Sinn Féin, and in particular its leadership, to address these issues and to help restore the trust that has been lost.

‘Incredible statements’

Mr Kenny was speaking in advance of talks next week involving the British and Irish governments and the North’s five main parties.

“These talks will be critical for the sustainability of devolution in Northern Ireland, ” he said.

The talks were called in the wake of the crisis triggered by the murder of Kevin McGuigan last month and the assessment by the PSNI chief constable George Hamilton that the IRA is still in existence and that IRA members were involved in the killing, albeit not with the authority of the IRA leadership.

It was not for Sinn Féin alone to help make progress, said Mr Kenny. “All of the parties, and both governments, have responsibilities to shoulder.

“At this point, apathy would be an act of destruction. Which is why the government in Dublin and London are as determined and united as we ever have been to make sure the centre can and will hold.

“Twenty one years after the IRA ceasefire and 10 years after the decommissioning and the IRA announcement of cessation of paramilitary activity, it is past time that it should carry any capacity for threat.”

Loyalist paramilitaries

“Paramilitarism and all its vestiges must be removed. They are incompatible with democracy and the hopes and demands of democrats.

“Therefore, democratic politicians of whatever persuasion, must dissociate themselves, and fully, from paramilitary organisations regardless of their influence in local communities.”