The DUP demanded a clear end to the IRA’s ruling army councillast night after a senior policeman warned it may be hard to tell if Provo chiefs have gone away.
Jeffrey Donaldson said the IRA should not function in any way.
But Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) assistant chief constable Peter Sheridan said the IRA’s command, while not a security threat, had not disbanded.
Last week, the British and Irish governments asked the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) to prepare a special report on the IRA’s structures by September 1 in a request tied to efforts to get police and justice powers devolved from Westminster.
Mr Donaldson said: “Whilst we note that the IMC has been asked to prepare a special report on paramilitary structures, including the current status of the IRA, we will be making our assessment with our own security contacts.
“The briefings we receive on a regular basis establish the extent to which the IRA has progressed with the dismantling of its paramilitary structures.
“It remains our position that the army council must leave the stage and that the IRA should no longer function in any respect,” he said.
The DUP and Sinn Fein have agreed that the justice portfolio would be held by a single minister and compromised by agreeing he or she should come from outside their parties — but they have not agreed on a timetable for transfering the powers.
The Government and Sinn Fein have been pressing for speedy change but the DUP wants to wait until unionist confidence in the process has been established.
The Alliance Party and SDLP have been touted as candidates for the position.
However, Alliance leader David Ford has ruled this out.
Mr Sheridan, the PSNI officer in charge of intelligence analysis who is retiring within weeks to take up a post at Co-operation Ireland, said: “The final ending of the Provisional Army Council (PAC) may be difficult to call. If three of them met to plan the way forward, is this a PAC meeting?
“They have not formally disbanded but they aren’t doing what they were set out to do and they aren’t a security threat.
“In a democratic society you clearly cannot have an army council. It is for police and security services to deal with dissidents.”
However, he also said that in his current assessment the IRA was in the final ‘end game’.
Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) MEP Jim Allister said devolving policing and justice responsibilities was the wrong move.
“The key thing about policing and justice the minute it is devolved is the powers it brings to the Office of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister.
“You can’t have in government a party with a paramilitary structure,” he said.
A spokesman for Sinn Fein said: “The IRA have clearly gone off the stage and have done so since 2005.
“But there’s still attempts being made by some people to drag them back on and I think that’s silly.”