The DUP has been accused of encouraging the IRA over what the TUV said was its weak response to the revelation that the IRA retains weapons, and the Army Council and its members believe that the terror group effectively runs Sinn Fein.
Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show yesterday, former DUP minister Edwin Poots said that his party sees little distinction between the IRA and Sinn Fein. “Sinn Fein and the IRA, we believe, are largely the same thing,” he said.
“You always get very excited not to call people ‘Sinn Fein-IRA’. We believe that the same DNA runs through those organisations.”
When asked if that meant that the DUP is effectively in government with the IRA, he said: “We’re in government with Sinn Fein...for many years people have described them as Sinn Fein-IRA.”
TUV vice-chairman Richard Cairns said that the comments showed “the deep immorality of the DUP’s decision to resume business as usual”.
He said: “For years, the DUP have claimed that they forced republicans to change. They claimed they forced them to decommission all their weapons. They claimed they forced republicans to abandon criminality.”
He added: “Thanks to yesterday’s report we now have it officially confirmed that the IRA retain weapons, an Army Council and departments with specific responsibilities. We also have it on the record that the IRA is still engaged in intelligence gathering, large scale smuggling and murder.
“Yet this is the organisation which, according to Mr Poots, is ‘largely the same thing’ as his partners in government. The message sent by the DUP yesterday by resuming power-sharing with Sinn Fein/IRA hours after such a damming report was published could not have been clearer – the IRA can do whatever it wants without fear of political consequences.”