Report ‘indictment’ of NI politics

An IRA man pictured at an Easter Commemoration ceremony at Milltown Cemetery, Belfast, in 1982
An IRA man pictured at an Easter Commemoration ceremony at Milltown Cemetery, Belfast, in 1982

The spokesman for a victims’ umbrella group representing thousands of people has said that the current political situation following the intelligence report into paramilitary activity is an “indictment of our political system”.

Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims’ United (IVU) said that his organisiation had taken its time to consider the fallout from last week’s report before making any comment.

IRA man at Easter Commemoration at Milltown graveyard, 1982

IRA man at Easter Commemoration at Milltown graveyard, 1982

Now that the group has mulled it over, he said that in order to move the Province forward, all of the groups which had carried out illegal paramilitary acts – whether loyalist or republican – should “go through a process of three Rs”.

This, he said, stands for “remorse, repentance and restitutive acts”.

“If they were to commit to this then very many people (including victims and survivors) would feel an ability to see such individuals as being part of a country moving forward,” he said.

“However if the lies and denials which have been commonplace persist then healing will remain denied to the innocent aswell as society in its’ broader context.”

The report, compiled by the PSNI and MI5 at the request of Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, had stated – among other things – that the IRA Army Council still exists.

It said: “PIRA members believe that the Provisional Army Council oversees both PIRA and Sinn Fein with an overarching strategy.”

The document was compiled following the furore surrounding the murder of ex-republican prisoner Kevin McGuigan, whom police had believed was killed by PIRA members, plus dissidents and a group called Action Against Drugs.

Sinn Fein staunchly denied the existence of the IRA after the murder, saying variously that it had “left the stage” and that it had flown away “like a butterfly”.

The statement from IVU, representing over 20 groups with a combined membership of over 11,000, said: “IVU has taken some time to consider events of recent days following the publication of a report into the status of terrorist organisations.

“For those we represent it is an indictment of our political system that seemingly Sinn Fein/IRA are enabled to dictate the terms of how Northern Ireland is governed.

“The old chestnut trotted out by Sinn Fein – we have a mandate holds no water. Hitler had a mandate and so did the proponents of slavery – that didn’t make any of that right.”

Mr Donaldson added that “we have insisted that 21 years on from the first PIRA ceasefires that all vestiges of terror and criminality can only be dealt with by the criminal justice system – that political parties comprising our Government must be free from the direction, influence and finance of such illegality.”

The report – dated October 19 – was widely publicised the following day (Tuesday).

Despite this on Thursday the News Letter reported that the ongoing multi-party talks at Stormont had failed to include discussion of the Army Council.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said he had attempted to raise the issue of the IRA, but that the parties present had “ignored the elephant in the room”.