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IRA should be legalised, says the man who advised Tony Blair on Good Friday deal

By Jack Maidment

Published 15/10/2015

Call: Former Blair aide Jonathan Powell
Call: Former Blair aide Jonathan Powell
Call: Former Blair aide Jonathan Powell
Call: Former Blair aide Jonathan Powell

A key adviser to Tony Blair in the talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement has suggested that the IRA should be legalised.

Earlier this week, Mr Blair’s former chief of staff Jonathan Powell announced an initiative to move loyalism away from criminality.

Last night, Mr Powell told the BBC’s Nolan Show that while paramilitary violence should end, whether paramilitary organisations should go away “is another matter”.

“You don’t really want the names of the organisations being taken over by other, more violent men,” he said.

“You don’t want their brand taken over by someone else.”

He suggested paramilitary groups could become involved in preserving history and culture.

“I don’t think it matters whether the IRA’s gone away.

“If the IRA is there as a veterans’ organisation, why does that matter?

“Why not legalise it?”

Meanwhile, Theresa Villiers has criticised Jeremy Corbyn over his reported links to the IRA, labelling them a “great concern”.

The Northern Ireland Secretary told the Commons: “It is obviously of great concern that the leader of the Labour Party as recently as August, when asked to condemn IRA terrorism, said that he condemned the actions of the British Army in Northern Ireland.”

The Government has ordered an independent report into the status of the IRA. 

Sources say the report will be published early next week.

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