US Gunrunner's offer to give evidence widely welcomed
Unionist politicians have strongly welcomed news that an American gunrunner has told police he is willing to give evidence against a senior Sinn Fein official.
But they have warned that politics must not be allowed to interfere with the process of justice.
Yesterday's Belfast Telegraph exclusively revealed that Florida stockbroker turned gunrunner, Mike Logan, has agreed to testify against Sean "Spike" Murray.
Mr Logan claims he sent Murray hundreds of weapons during his five-year gunrunning career which began after the IRA ceasefire and continued following the Good Friday Agreement.
Spike Murray has continually denied any involvement in the gunsmuggling plot, describing the allegations as "without foundation."
A high-powered PSNI delegation, including Det Chief Supt Tim Hanley, Head of Serious Crime Branch, met Mr Logan in Florida last month. Detectives are due to return early next month to formally interview him and record his evidence on video.
If a prosecution case is successfully constructed, Mr Logan will be flown to Belfast to give evidence at the trial.
The DUP's Gregory Campbell said: "This is very good news for those of us who believe in law and order. Hopefully, a concrete prosecution case can be built.
"The more information and evidence police obtain the better. I hope the law takes its course."
TUV leader Jim Allister said: "I welcome indications that the PSNI are pursuing this matter and that Mr Logan is going to co-operate. Let this case proceed with the evidence needed and not be derailed by any political considerations.
"Mr Murray may now be a leading light in Sinn Fein but that is not, and must not be, a reason to soft-peddle any investigation into his alleged past activities. Matters of life-and-death are at stake here."
Ulster Unionist MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Tom Elliot, said: "The issue of the Florida gunrunning appeared to have gone off the radar, so I'm glad that it actually hadn't and that behind-the-scenes police were making progress.
"If Mike Logan wants to come and give evidence that would be a very welcome addition to our search for justice. We don't want this stuff brushed under the carpet. We need it flushed out into the open.
"Any alleged illegal involvement from any individual, whatever their role in a political party, needs to be dealt with appropriately."
Just a fortnight ago, Murray was part of a Sinn Fein delegation which met the Chief Constable at PSNI headquarters to deny IRA involvement in the murder of Kevin McGuigan and to insist that the IRA no longer existed.
Mr Logan (56) claims he reported directly to Murray when buying and sending his deadly arsenal, which included around 200 hand-guns. Murray has served seven years in the H-Blocks for explosive offences and is a regular visitor to Sinn Fein offices in Stormont.