Calls for probe over claims that IRA crime is funding Sinn Fein
Sinn Fein is reeling, as pressure mounts for an investigation into allegations the proceeds of IRA crime are being used to fund the party.
In an astonishing move, Gerry Adams was forced to defend his party against claims from IRA members that they believe Sinn Fein is run by the Provos' army council.
The focus has now shifted squarely on to whether Provo cash from smuggling and extortion, or the proceeds of the Northern Bank raid, are being used to fund the party's activities.
After refusing to comment on the damning findings of the report on paramilitary activities in Northern Ireland in the last 24 hours, Mr Adams finally broke his silence. The under-fire Sinn Fein president alleged that the report's findings were little more than "mischief making" by the MI5 and PSNI.
However, it's understood there is deep concern at the highest levels of the Irish government over possible links between money raised by Provo criminals and Sinn Fein.
But senior sources said the coalition is hamstrung, as there is no specific evidence of a money trail despite extensive investigations into cross -border smuggling and racketeering by gardai. Last night, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin called for a new body to monitor paramilitary activities on both sides of the border.
"I said that there is form in this, in that if you go back and look at the Northern Bank robbery there were three members of Sinn Fein actually convicted," Mr Martin said.
"I think there is a legitimate case for a broader investigation [into whether the proceeds of crime are being filtered into Sinn Fein]. That's why I asked the Taoiseach to consider a joint British-Irish government agency to be established, to be well-resourced to get at this area," he said.
Mr Martin's comment follow a nasty attack on his character by Sinn Fein TD Pardraig Mac Lochallain, who repeatedly called him a "gurrier" during a Dail debate on Provo activity.
Sinn Fein party members jeered throughout the debate and Mr Adams called the Fianna Fail leader "idiotic" for his stance on the power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland.
"That is the type of intimidation that people engage in when they are challenged," Mr Martin responded.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he has differences of opinion with Mr Martin, but would never "descend to the level" of name calling.
The explosive report on paramilitaries found that PIRA members believe its senior ranks oversee Sinn Fein. The report also said some PIRA members are involved in "large scale" smuggling and other forms of criminality, including murder.
Gardai investigating cross-border crime have arrested 50 individuals with PIRA links and raked in around €28m (£20.6bn) from the proceeds of crime.
However, former IRA gun runner Martin Ferris said: "I can totally reassure them that my party is not controlled by any organisation other than the party membership."