Ex PSNI Chief Constable Sir George Hamilton: IRA Army Council directed Sinn Fein during Kevin McGuigan murder

Former chief constable Sir George Hamilton has gone further than ever before on the 2015 murder of Kevin McGuigan, to say it was “sanctioned at senior levels” of the IRA.

He also asserted that IRA Army Council members were directing Sinn Fein at the time.

Speaking last year in the book ‘Political Purgatory’ by Brian Rowan, Sir George revealed that the police had indeed believed that “senior republicans” were involved in the murder and that the killers were current members, neither of which the PSNI revealed in 2015.

But speaking to the BBC for a film broadcast on Monday night marking 20 years of the PSNI, Mr Hamilton has now gone even further.

Former PSNI chief constable Sir George Hamilton speaking on the BBC film, 'PSNI: 20 Years On The Frontline'

And instead of saying the murder happened with the concurrence of senior figures within “the republican movement”, he explicitly said the murder was approved by senior IRA figures.

Mr Hamilton told Stephen Nolan: “There was a very strong line of inquiry that we were following that members of the IRA had been involved in that murder and that it had been sanctioned at senior levels within the organisation, even if it wasn’t being done – conducted – on behalf of the organisation.”

He said there was other evidence that backed this up.

“Apart from the police in a live murder investigation coming to that conclusion, when we were going to try to get evidence from people, knocking doors, people were telling us on the doorstep, ‘Look don’t be expecting me to answer your questions and provide statements. You know as well as I do who is behind this. You are not prepared to say it because you are fettered politically’.”

Mr Nolan asked him: “This Army Council which you are saying was controlling Sinn Fein – why wasn’t Sinn Fein controlling Sinn Fein?”

Mr Hamilton replied that those were questions for Sinn Fein, who would say that they disagreed with his 2015 analysis.

“In terms of the strategic direction of that political party it was controlled, it was directed by people that sat on the IRA Army Council,” he added.

Asked if there were “any household names sitting on that Army Council at the time?” Mr Hamilton smiled, and replied: “I am not going to comment on that.”

Last year Chief Constable Simon Byrne said the PSNI still stands over the 2015 Assessment of Paramilitary Groups report. It said: “PIRA members believe that the PAC [Provisional Army Council] oversees both PIRA and Sinn Fein with an overarching strategy”.

Sinn Fein was invited to comment.

:: PSNI – 20 Years On The Frontline is a Third Street Production for BBC Northern Ireland. It was first broadcast on BBC One NI on Monday 24 January at 10.35pm.

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