A senior Sinn Fein figure who was part of the party’s delegation to meet the chief constable a week ago is still under investigation by the PSNI over alleged gun-running, police have confirmed.
Sean ‘Spike’ Murray was a top figure in the IRA and is now a key Sinn Fein representative in Belfast.
More than a year ago, BBC Spotlight broadcast an interview with former IRA gun-runner Mike Logan, who alleged that he sent guns to Murray over several years.
Crucially, Logan alleged that he had done so – at Murray’s request – after the IRA’s ceasefire in 1997.
Murray declined to be interviewed by Spotlight but in a statement said that the accusations were “without foundation”.
Among the weapons which Logan says he sent to Belfast were Glock handguns, a weapon which he claimed Murray told him the IRA did not have any of at that point.
Last week police investigating the murder of Kevin McGuigan arrested 53-year-old Patrick Fitzpatrick and he has since appeared in court on a firearms charge after police recovered a Glock pistol.
The day after the Spotlight broadcast, the News Letter asked the PSNI if it would investigate the allegations. After several hours, the PSNI said it would not be making any comment on the issue, giving the impression that police were not enthusiastic about a new investigation.
But just an hour later, the PSNI said: “PIRA gun-running from Florida is now subject to reinvestigation which will include an examination of existing evidence together with the examination of any potential new evidence that has come to light in the last few days.”
On Friday the News Letter asked the PSNI for an update on its investigation. A spokesman said: “Police inquiries are continuing.”
TUV leader Jim Allister said: “The claims that the PSNI accept that Sinn Fein support the rule of law are put in context when one recalls that Murray was part of the republican delegation to meet the chief constable on Saturday past. “
He added: “The more one examines the unfolding crisis at Stormont the less one should be surprised.
“The evidence that Sinn Fein remains committed to violence if they judge it will serve their purposes was always staring unionists in the face.
“TUV has always argued that eventually Stormont couldn’t stand under the weight of the blatant contradictions and disregard for democratic norms.
“Everyone now knows that the St Andrews Agreement and the IRA decommissioning and disbandment which it was supposedly predicated upon were a sham.
“Unionists need to realise that what is needed isn’t, as the UUP have suggested, a return to the Belfast Agreement but a recognition that Sinn Fein/IRA should never have been trusted in the first place.”