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DUP ministers will return to Executive jobs today

The DUP has announced that its ministers who had resigned from the Stormont Executive will return to office today following the publication of a Government-ordered review of paramilitary structures in Northern Ireland.

A statement from the Democratic Unionist Party said it accepts "the entirety of the report’s findings" and that while the IRA still exists, "the IRA of the Troubles era is well beyond recall".

The review, ordered after the shooting of ex-IRA man Kevin McGuigan in August, said an IRA "Provisional Army Council" remains in place, and IRA members believe that ruling body "oversees" Sinn Fein's strategy.

It said: "The report might clear the republican leadership in that it reaches a 'firm conclusion that it is committed to the peace process' and that 'it has a wholly political focus' but it makes depressing reading about the pace of change within the organisation and the level of control the leadership has over some of its members and their activities.

"In truth it demonstrates the scale of the task we all face in normalising our society and making the Assembly sustainable.

DUP First Minister Peter Robinson stood aside from his duties last month at the height of the political crisis, and three of the party's four other Executive ministers resigned.

The party has faced intense criticism since, as ministers have been reappointed for a matter of hours, only to resign again in a repeating cycle - in order to prevent other parties taking the posts.

The report said the remaining IRA organisation is not involved in any targeting, recruiting, arms procurement, planning or conducting terrorist activities.

The "Army Council" still exists, but is supportive of the peace process," it says.

"The idea that any paramilitary structure still exists is unacceptable. This is true of loyalist groups as much as republican ones," said the DUP.

"This report largely confirms the assessment of the Chief Constable, in August, when he indicated that IRA structures existed and that members and former members had been involved in illegal activity though not sanctioned by the leadership who he stated were wedded to the peace process."

The party statement said ministers will be appointed to office later today.

Sinn Fein has rejected the claim that an IRA council tells it what to do.

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