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Provos still getting away with murder, no change there

By Suzanne Breen

Published 21/08/2015

Police, fearing possible reprisal attacks from feuding republicans, maintained a heavy presence around the vicinity of Short Strand during the funeral of Kevin McGuigan on Tuesday
Police, fearing possible reprisal attacks from feuding republicans, maintained a heavy presence around the vicinity of Short Strand during the funeral of Kevin McGuigan on Tuesday

Just a fortnight ago the Chief Constable joined former IRA chief-of-staff Martin McGuinness on a platform at the West Belfast Festival.

Other senior Provisionals, including Bobby Storey, the IRA's head of intelligence, sat a few feet away.

It was another Kodak moment for the peace process. George Hamilton was well received at the packed debate. The only "bad guys", according to the cosy narrative, were the dissident protesters who blasted republican music outside the venue.

Except, like much of what we're told about the new dispensation in Northern Ireland, there was a fair share of fiction involved. Because as George Hamilton spoke about peace and new beginnings, the murder of Kevin McGuigan was being plotted by mainstream IRA members.

Yesterday the PSNI - very reluctantly, I believe - blew away the myths that have prevailed about the Provisionals in recent years.

The IRA, we have been told time and time again, are on ceasefire, have decommissioned every weapon they ever possessed and have ceased to exist.

Yet here was Det Supt Kevin Geddes saying that a major line of inquiry was that IRA members were involved in the McGuigan murder. Police had no information, however, that the killing was "sanctioned at command level".

The tacit, titanic admission was that the IRA is still very much in business and continues to congregate with its structures in place. This means there is still an Army Council and a GHQ staff. There still are arms dumps, quartermasters, units all over the country, intelligence-gathering and a finance department. The whole shebang remains up and running. So what actually did disappear when we were fed the line that the IRA had gone away?

Where now are the great and good in the clerical and community sectors whom the Northern Ireland Office wheeled out to spin whatever story had to be spun at whatever point in time about the Provos' intentions?

Admitting the reality of the IRA's continuing existence should never be dismissed as anti-republican propaganda. Far from it. Saying loudly and clearly that the IRA is still in business is no news at all to those who live in working-class nationalist areas. The loudest belly laughs in Belfast at the idea that the Provos didn't kill Kevin McGuigan would be in the Short Strand and Markets.

It's now officially admitted that after Jock Davison's murder in May, the IRA carried out its own investigation, that it interviewed witnesses and took statements from local people.

The Provisionals weren't prepared to leave it up to the PSNI and State bodies to investigate and prosecute in relation to the murder. They took the law into their own hands. This is similar to what unfolded after the killing of Robert McCartney 10 years ago. Except in that case, the IRA was out to cover up for the murder gang; in this case, it wanted vengeance against the killers because Jock was their man.

Any time any fingers are pointed at the Provos by police, the propaganda is peddled out that securocrats are at work. I'm sure this time will be no different but the exact opposite is true.

The State has long turned a blind eye to IRA violence and continuing criminal activity providing it doesn't threaten the peace process. So long as it's Catholic civilians and not cops being slaughtered by the Provos, it's tolerated.

Kevin McGuigan joins a long list of victims including Paul Quinn, Andrew Kearney, Charles Bennett, and a host of others. The Provos have managed to literally get away with murder thus far, and I've no reason to believe this time will be any different. Despite Det Supt Geddes's breathtaking statement, the Stormont institutions, and Sinn Fein's place in them, will be protected.

The DUP is meeting the PSNI but it appears to be leaving a get out-clause that it's looking for evidence the IRA was involved "at an officially sanctioned level". Had Kevin McGuigan come from the unionist community, would the party be prepared to be so open-minded and generous?

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