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Results of poll on IRA's links with SF reflect reality: MP

By Chris McCullough and Daniel McConnell

Published 09/11/2015

Kevin McGuigan was shot dead in Belfast on August 13
Kevin McGuigan was shot dead in Belfast on August 13

A poll conducted in the Republic on whether people think the IRA is linked to Sinn Fein, simply reflects reality, according to Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliott.

Only around 25% of people polled in the Republic of Ireland believed the Provisional IRA Army Council does not oversee activities in Sinn Fein.

And around half (49%) said they do believe the party is controlled by members of the terrorist organisation, according to the poll by the Sunday Independent and researchers Millward Brown.

The Provisional IRA continues to be headed by an army council, has access to weapons, and has directed members to actively support Sinn Fein, a recent damning report into paramilitary activity concluded.

The poll indicated that most people believe this.

Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliott said: "This poll, while interesting, goes on to demonstrate what is reality.

"Recent assessments have repeatedly indicated that members of the IRA council are still there.

"Reports have confirmed this and now the people have confirmed what they think.

"The IRA Council is still there and this poll confirms what is reality."

Sinn Fein and its president Gerry Adams have rejected an independent report commissioned by the Secretary of State which said IRA organisational structures still exist and that members believe the IRA Army Council oversees both the IRA and Sinn Fein with an over-arching strategy.

However, it is clear the public does not believe such denials.

Just 23% of people surveyed said they did not believe the report's finding, while 28% said they didn't know. A majority (52%) also said they believe the IRA is still engaged in criminal activity.

Just 23% said they felt the organisation was no longer engaged in illegal and criminal activity, while 25% said they didn't know.

Despite the damning report, gardai have maintained the stance of Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan that the PIRA is not an organised unit in the Republic.

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has told Parliament that the PIRA exists with a senior leadership and other 'departments' with specific responsibilities.

While they don't pose a terrorist threat, they are involved in smuggling and incidents of violence, including murder.

The report, which took evidence from the PSNI and MI5, was commissioned in the wake of the murder of Kevin McGuigan in Belfast this summer.

The aftermath of the killing brought Stormont to a virtual standstill.

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