Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has accused British intelligence chiefs of putting peace in Northern Ireland at risk in a bid to stop the growth of his party.
In a hard-hitting speech in the Irish parliament, Mr Adams also claimed his political opponents in the Irish Republic prioritised MI5 analysis that the IRA’s ruling army council still exists over assessments by their own police chief.
The republican leader, who learned over a month ago that he will not face any charges over the Provos’ 1972 abduction and murder of mother-of-10 Jean McConville, claimed the British Government was trying to roll back on commitments to deal with legacy issues of the Troubles.
“The very people – in MI5 and in the old guard of the RUC – who produced the recent report, have also brought in a veto to stop the families of victims of British terrorism from getting the truth about what happened to their loved ones,” Mr Adams said.
“These are the same people who directed agents and informers and paramilitary organisations that killed hundreds of citizens, including citizens in this city with the Dublin-Monaghan bombs and stirred sectarian violence and colluded in murder.
“They are prepared to put the peace and political processes at risk in an effort to stop the growth of Sinn Fein north and south. These are the people some in this Dail choose to believe; probably for the same reason.”
Mr Adams made his speech in a Dail debate on Northern Ireland.
It was being held almost a fortnight since security assessments of current IRA activity were published in London and Dublin.
The PSNI and MI5 reported that the IRA army council oversees Sinn Fein, and while it has a “wholly political” focus, it retains weapons despite decommissioning a decade ago and individual members are involved in criminal activity like large-scale smuggling.
In the Republic, the Garda review found a “significant number” of former Provos are involved in organised crime for personal gain and, while the army council “associates”, there is no evidence it meets formally south of the border.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dail it was not credible for Sinn Fein to make statements that the IRA does not exist.
“It is the responsibility of Sinn Fein, and in particular its leadership, to address these issues and to help restore the trust that has been lost,” Mr Kenny said.
“We have become used to incredible statements be they about past activity, current activity, murder, robbery and child abuse.
“There may have been a time when living with constructive ambiguity helped the peace process. But that time is now past.”
Mr Kenny also warned of the paramilitarism that was “deeply embedded in loyalist communities”.
The Taoiseach is expected to hold talks with Prime Minister David Cameron next week in London as the talks to revive power sharing at Stormont continue.
He described the British intelligence assessment of the IRA as “sobering reading” and a complex and challenging issue.
“There is substantial common ground in the findings of both assessments – both raise deeply troubling issues about PIRA and the legacy of paramilitarism,” Mr Kenny said.
“Both communities continue to be affected by the so-called ‘dissident’ republican groups and their ongoing campaigns of terrorism. While these groups are separate from and at odds with PIRA, they have their origins in PIRA.”
The Taoiseach also said it was a priority of his government to establish a comprehensive mechanism for dealing with legacy issues of the Troubles.
“The Government is committed to ensuring full co-operation by the authorities in this jurisdiction with any new investigative body in Northern Ireland with appropriate policing powers, and I have reiterated this at recent meetings in Northern Ireland – including with the Kingsmills and Ballymurphy families,” he said.