A senior republican figure yesterday likened the IRA to a butterfly in a bid to illustrate his claim that it no longer exists.
Bobby Storey, who was released unconditionally last week after being arrested by officers probing the Kevin McGuigan killing, used the metaphor to illustrate that the organisation has “flew away”.
Mr Storey said he had “serious concerns” over his arrest.
But he backed the PSNI as the appropriate body to investigate the two murders.
PSNI chief constable George Hamilton has said there is no evidence IRA leadership sanctioned the McGuigan murder.
However, the region’s senior officer said structures of the organisation still exist, albeit for political, not terror, purposes.
During the event in west Belfast, Mr Storey repeatedly insisted the IRA was no more.
“The IRA has gone, the IRA have stood down, they have put their arms beyond use, they have left the stage, they are away and they are not coming back,” he said.
“There is no current status of the IRA, there is no current IRA members – the IRA has gone... Where I differ from the chief constable, is there is no role for the IRA, the IRA has finished, the IRA has gone.
“I think the chief constable and other perspectives out there see this in terms of the IRA being the caterpillar that’s still there, where I think it’s moved on, it’s become a butterfly, it’s flew away, it’s gone, it’s disappeared and they need to evolve to that as well.”
He added: “The primary republican organisation and the primary republican morality, credibility and representativeness is in the Sinn Fein party.”
Unionists derided Sinn Fein northern chairman Bobby Storey’s “butterfly” comment yesterday.
Jim Allister, TUV leader, said his remarks “would be laughable were the issues involved not deadly serious”.
DUP East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said: “Unfortunately for republicans nearly everyone else believes the Chief Constable rather than Bobby Storey or Gerry Adams.
“The problem with this latest drivel is that it compares the IRA to butterflies! Action on what they intend to do about the IRA is what is needed as opposed to this latest idealistic nonsense.”