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IRA still with us, the Chief Constable tells Nesbitt

BY David Young, PA

A police assessment on IRA structures does not make an Ulster Unionist re-entry to the Executive "any more attractive", party leader Mike Nesbitt said.

He met yesterday with Chief Constable George Hamilton to be briefed on paramilitary activity.

The UUP walked out of the power-sharing administration last autumn amid a crisis sparked by a murder linked to the Provisional IRA.

After the briefing, Mr Nesbitt said: "The Chief Constable confirmed no change from the assessment given to the Secretary of State last October - PIRA still exists. This is not surprising, but disappointing, given PIRA have drawn the roadmap that others are following.

"George Hamilton would not be drawn on this week's shootings, but these are serious criminal acts. I encourage those who have knowledge of the perpetrators to throw the guns in the streets and the perpetrators behind bars.

"The Chief Constable's assessment does not make re-entry to the Executive any more attractive, but we have two other tests regarding the Programme for Government to which we expect to have answers in a few days."

Mr Hamilton said: "Over the course of the last seven months there have been a number of very serious crimes committed in our community. Significant PSNI resources have been allocated to progress the investigations into these incidents.

"This investigative activity, or wider intelligence to date, has not indicated any change to the position reflected in the October 2015 paramilitary assessment."

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