Belfast Telegraph

Chief Constable stands by his assessment that IRA members killed McGuigan

By Deborah McAleese

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has said his assessment of the Provisional IRA's involvement in the murder of Kevin McGuigan remains unchanged.

Facing questions from members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board yesterday about the murder, Mr Hamilton also said he would support an independent assessment of paramilitary groups.

The ex-IRA man died after he was shot at his home in east Belfast in what detectives believe was a revenge attack for the killing of former IRA commander Gerard "Jock" Davison in Belfast in May.

Last month the Chief Constable said that individual PIRA members were involved in the 53-year-old's murder.

He also said that the PIRA still existed, but added that its leadership did not sanction the killing.

During yesterday's first public meeting of the Policing Board since he made his assessment, Mr Hamilton said that the murder investigation had progressed but his "assessment remains valid."

Mr Hamilton also said it was not the job of police to monitor the activity of paramilitary groups.

He added that the police would support any move to set up a body to monitor such organisations.

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr told board members that while the PIRA still existed it did not create a threat to national security.

"At the operational tier - active service units - we don't believe that tier exists any more. A senior tier exists for a radically different purpose than 20 years ago."

Mr Kerr said there was no terrorist command and the IRA was not involved in terrorism. "It is involved in pursuing an exclusively peaceful, political agenda," he added.

Detectives from PSNI Serious Crime Branch yesterday arrested a 13th person in connection with Mr McGuigan's murder.

A 46-year-old man was detained by officers in Antrim and taken for questioning at Antrim Serious Crime Suite.

So far just one person arrested in connection with the murder has been charged.

Patrick Fitzpatrick (53), from the Lagmore area of west Belfast, has been charged with possessing a Glock pistol with intent to endanger life.

A 41-year-old man arrested on Wednesday remained in custody yesterday for questioning.

Confirmation from the PSNI of PIRA members' involvement in the murder has sparked a political crisis. The Ulster Unionist Party said it could no longer work with Sinn Fein because trust has been shattered and has left the power-sharing ministerial Executive at Stormont.

The DUP called for the Assembly to be suspended for four weeks to allow for intensive talks.

Sinn Fein said the IRA has gone away but supported demands for discussions.

Belfast Telegraph

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