Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein 'undemocratic and still run by the IRA', says Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin

By John Downing

Sinn Fein is "a centrally-controlled undemocratic party" and its strategy is still determined by the IRA army council, the leader of Fianna Fail has said.

Micheal Martin again ruled out the prospect of doing a coalition deal in the Republic with Sinn Fein.

He also said the way Michelle O'Neill was appointed party leader in Northern Ireland was clear evidence of Sinn Fein's undemocratic nature.

"One would expect that the parliamentary leader would be elected by the parliamentarians or by the party membership," Mr Martin told RTE's This Week programme. "In this case she was appointed by Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and others we don't know about."

Mr Martin commented that just last year Northern Ireland's security services and the PSNI had concluded that the IRA army council still existed and dictated Sinn Fein policies.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams dismissed Mr Martin's criticisms. "Micheal Martin, true to form, has again spent time criticising Sinn Fein in an opportunistic and nonsensical way," the former West Belfast MP said.

"He is propping up a government which presides over a housing emergency and a crisis in our health service, resiles from its responsibilities to people in the north and is ill prepared for Brexit," he continued.

Mr Adams said Mr Martin was trying to create a diversion.

"He attacks Sinn Fein because Sinn Fein presents the most significant threat to the conservative politics of the Fianna Fail leadership."

In late 2015, an independent assessment of paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland revealed that the IRA's Army Council still existed, but had a "wholly political focus".

The report into paramilitarism in the province was commissioned following the murder of Kevin McGuigan (53) outside his east Belfast home in August 2015.

The PSNI's belief that current IRA members were involved in the murder led to a political crisis.

The panel said "the structures of PIRA remain in existence in a much reduced form" but those that remain include "a senior leadership, the "Provisional Army Council" and some "departments".

Afterwards, Sinn Fein insisted the Provisional IRA had gone away and no longer existed.

But the three-member panel appointed by the Government also found the leaderships of the groups were "committed to peaceful means to achieve their political objectives".

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