Sinn Féin accuses opponents of using murders to attack the party

Micheál Martin says allegations confirm what his party has ‘believed for some time’

Sinn Féin has accused its political opponents of using the murders of Kevin McGuigan and Gerard “Jock” Davidson to attack the party in the lead up to the general election.

Both Labour and Fianna Fáil increased the political pressure on Sinn Féin yesterday, with Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly asking Gerry Adams to explicitly say the IRA no longer exists.

“What we need to hear is that members of the IRA are not involved in murder, in drugs, in a whole load of other criminal activity, and they don’t use an old network to do so,” he said.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said PSNI chief constable George Hamilton had confirmed what his party has "believed for some time".

Mr Hamilton said the IRA still exists as an organisation, but not for paramilitary purposes and that individual members were involved in killing Mr McGuigan,

“The Chief Constable’s comments will have sent a chill down the spine of very many Irish citizens,” Mr Martin said.

“The Provisional IRA is still in existence and continues to maintain a command structure. He also confirmed its focus is now primarily political.”

‘Dishonesty’

He said the peace process has “been put at risk by the dishonesty of the Provisional Sinn Féin and IRA leadership” and accused Sinn Féin of attacking “everyone who questions them and labels them as anti-peace process”.

“Sinn Féin does not have sole ownership of the process and through its behaviour is causing more damage to the process than any of those it has been attacking.”

Mr Martin called for a statement from Taoiseach Enda Kenny. The Department of Justice said Minister Frances Fitzgerald had been assured by Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan that the force is "in close contact with their colleagues in the PSNI in relation to matters arising in the investigation into the brutal killing of Kevin McGuigan".

Sinn Féin’s Aengus O’Snodaigh accused Mr Martin of “putting Fianna Fáil’s narrow party political interests before the imperative of the peace process”.

"Michael Martin's shameful claims that the IRA is involved in fundraising for Sinn Féin, gathering intelligence and 'community control' are outrageous and disgraceful. If he has any evidence to support any of his contemptible claims then he has a responsibility to bring it to An Garda Síochána. "

Cavan Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the IRA no longer exists and accused other parties of attacking Sinn Féin in a "highly cynical and wholly self-serving" fashion.

“There have been two killings in Belfast. Sinn Féin supports the PSNI in their investigation into these killings and anyone involved must be brought to justice.

“With an election looming it is no surprise that other parties have attacked Sinn Féin. Let me be clear, the IRA is gone. It no longer exists.”

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