IRA weapons still in use, claims UUP MLA

A terrorist pictured with an armed RPG 7 rocket launcher and war head
A terrorist pictured with an armed RPG 7 rocket launcher and war head

Weapons belonging to the Provisional IRA - including a rocket launcher and a warhead - are still in use, an Ulster Unionist MLA has claimed.

West Tyrone MLA and Policing Board member Ross Hussey said that police statistics have confirmed that IRA weapons are still in use.

He questioned PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott on the matter at today’s meeting of the Policing Board.

Mr Hussey commented: “I have become increasingly concerned at the origins of weapons and munitions which are clearly being utilised by the current republican terrorists, not least with the recent discovery of a rocket launcher and warhead by the Serious Crime Branch in west Belfast.

“In light of this I raised the issue at the Policing Board by asking how many weapons and munitions have been recovered by the PSNI since the confirmation by General De Chastelain in September 2005 that the IRA had decommissioned its weapons.”

The Provisional IRA has been on ceasefire since 2005 and decommissioned its weapons in the same year.

But Mr Hussey said he was told that of the 568 firearms recovered by police since 2005, 16 originated from PIRA stock.

“I was also concerned to learn that in the last five years there have been 18 gun attacks on police from which 93 spent cases were recovered. Of these spent cases 58 apparently originate from PIRA stock,” he said.

“This makes uncomfortable reading for those who claim they only entered into Government after full decommissioning.

“It also proves PIRA weapons are still out there and available for use by the latest wave of IRA terrorists.

“I will be following up by asking the same questions of the Army who will also have made recoveries of weapons and munitions.”

However the DUP hit back at Mr Hussey’s comment, and said reports that Provisional IRA weapons are in hands of dissident republicans “demonstrated clearly the effect that Ulster Unionist failure to secure decommissioning had”.

Mr Buchanan said from the UUP’s 1999 slogan of “no guns, no government”, it took “many years before the DUP assumed the mantle of unionism and forced republicans to eventually decommission”.

“Sadly these years of failure and delay probably assisted in Provisional IRA weapons falling into the hands of dissidents,” he said.

“The fact that some of these weapons are still able to be used today is an unfortunate by-product of the UUP’s failure to either negotiate any concrete deadline for decommissioning within the Belfast Agreement or to stick to their word on entering government without the handover of guns.”