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Stormont teeters as parties demand terror clarification

By Liam Clarke

Published 21/08/2015

First Minister Peter Robinson speaking at Stormont Castle in Belfast, where he said that Sinn Fein should be expelled from Northern Ireland's power-sharing Executive if it is proven the Provisional IRA was behind the murder of one of its former members in Belfast.
First Minister Peter Robinson speaking at Stormont Castle in Belfast, where he said that Sinn Fein should be expelled from Northern Ireland's power-sharing Executive if it is proven the Provisional IRA was behind the murder of one of its former members in Belfast.

DUP leader Peter Robinson last night warned that if evidence proves that the IRA was involved in the McGuigan murder, he will move to exclude Sinn Fein from the Executive.

He said there could be "no place for terror and murderous activity on our streets, and republicans cannot be in the Executive in circumstances where this murder was the work of the IRA".

The First Minister told how he would be meeting the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, and added: "We will have discussions with other parties about tabling the necessary exclusion motion in and asking the Secretary of State to intervene in circumstances where the evidence points to the IRA being involved."

The SDLP and UUP are also seeking a meeting with the Chief Constable after a confusing police statement on the murder of Kevin McGuigan.

The parties want clarity, because if the IRA was responsible for Mr McGuigan's murder, or if the republican leadership knew about it in advance, then Sinn Fein would have to leave the Executive.

Last night, Gregory Campbell, DUP MP for East Londonderry, said "there could be no question of devolution continuing" if the IRA was guilty.

In a statement yesterday, Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes blamed Action Against Drugs (AAD) for the murder. He described it as a separate organisation to the IRA, but later said he believed that IRA members had carried out the killing and that he did not know if it had been sanctioned.

AAD had stated on August 6 that they would kill anyone involved in the May murder of Gerard "Jock" Davidson.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly insisted last night that the IRA no longer existed and labelled AAD "a criminal gang" that needed to be taken off the streets. He called on anyone with information to come forward to the police.

Davidson and McGuigan had carried out attacks as members of both the IRA and Direct Action Against Drugs, a predecessor of AAD.

Superintendent Geddes described AAD as "some criminals, some violent dissident republicans and some former members of the Provisional IRA who have formed into a dangerous, possibly murderous, grouping to pursue their own criminal agenda".

The DUP's Mr Campbell has already been in touch with the Chief Constable to seek clarification on whether the IRA was really believed to be responsible. Mr Hamilton has agreed to meet a DUP delegation today or Saturday.

Other parties are equally concerned. UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said: "The potential that members of a terrorist organisation - which we had been told had decommissioned its weapons and wasn't even supposed to be in existence - could still be orchestrating murder on our streets is a very serious development.

"Could it be that the republican movement retained a PIRA unit with access to weapons to deal with situations that they deemed required a dip back into the old terrorist ways?

"(There are) three options that seem to exist here: the first one is that members of the PIRA carried out this murder on their own initiative; the second is that the perpetrators sought and received sanction from a higher authority; and the third option is that it was not sanctioned by actually ordered by leaders of the republican movement."

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