TGS Consulta


'Reduced' IRA Army Council Still Exists

The Provisional IRA of the Troubles era is "well beyond recall," according to an independent report ordered by the Government.

A review of Northern Ireland paramilitary activity has said parts of the Provisional IRA still exist in a "much reduced form".

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has told parliament that the Government-ordered independent review found that, while the main republican and loyalist terror groups remain, none are planning attacks.

She added that, although all of the main groups had committed murders since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, their leaders are now committed to peaceful means of achieving their objectives.

The report described the Provisional IRA as being "committed to achieving a united Ireland by political means," adding: "The PIRA of the Troubles era is well beyond recall."

The Provisional IRA was the largest and most active terror group in Northern Ireland in the Troubles and the report blames it for 1,771 murders between 1969 and 1999. Quoting the report, Ms Villiers said: "It is our firm assessment that the leaderships of the main paramilitary groups are committed to peaceful means to achieve their political objectives."

Ms Villiers said that most of the paramilitary groups still "organise themselves along militaristic lines", with the report saying that this made them "look more prepared for a campaign of violence than they are".

The report was based on assessments by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and MI5 and examined groups including the Provisional IRA, Red Hand Commando, Irish National Liberation Army, Ulster Volunteer Force and Ulster Defence Association. Ms Villiers told parliament that "much of this assessment makes uncomfortable reading," adding: "These organisations should never have existed in the first place and, 21 years after the first ceasefires and 17 years after the Belfast Agreement, it is clearly unacceptable that they still exist today."

It also reported that some of the other groups - such as the Irish National Liberation Army, Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force - have become involved in crime such as drug dealing and racketeering, despite the efforts of their leaders to concentrate on positive community activism.

The review was called for after the murder of Kevin McGuigan in August - a suspected revenge attack for the murder of former IRA commander Gerard Davison three months earlier.The murder of Mr McGuigan, an ex-IRA man, saw all but one of the unionist ministers walk out, saying that trust in Sinn Fein had been shattered and leaving Stormont's power-sharing executive in chaos.

Crisis talks between the five main parties and the British and Irish governments have failed to resolve the problem, with these talks effectively awaiting the outcome of the review into paramilitary activity.

In the wake of the review's publication, the Democratic Unionist Party announced its ministers who had walked out would return to office but the party's Westminster leader Nigel Dodds said: "The report demonstrates the scale of the work that lies ahead in the talks process."

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