07 April 2005

BreakingNews.ie

IRA still has terror capability - police chief

07/04/2005 - 13:42:09

The IRA is still unlikely to carry out a major terrorist operation which would breach the organisation’s ceasefire but retained its capability, a senior policeman in Northern Ireland claimed today.

After the IRA today said it would give due consideration to Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams’ call for them to embrace politics and abandon the armed struggle, Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid told Northern Ireland Policing Board he was aware that recent events could overtake his assessment of the Provisionals’ capabilities.

But responding to a question from Democratic Unionist Policing Board member Ian Paisley Jnr, he said the organisation remained up until this point involved in criminal activities such as robberies and carried out punishment attacks and beatings.

“They continue to maintain their organisation’s operational capabilities,” he said.

“They could, if they wanted to, mount a terrorist operation which would be in breach of their ceasefire.

“We continue to assess that such a move is unlikely and remains a last resort.

“They continue to conduct various other criminal enterprises including robberies and various types of civil administration.”

Chief Constable Hugh Orde said that following Mr Adams’ dramatic appeal yesterday to the IRA to begin an internal debate on its future and grasp the opportunity to pursue its goals through politics, it remained to be seen how the organisation would respond.

He was unwilling to give any further assessment of whether the IRA would respond positively to Mr Adams.

He told Mr Paisley: “We will wait and see what it means.

“It is a statement made by a political party which it would be wrong of me as chief constable at this particular moment in time to make a particular observation on.

“We will wait and see and we will see where that takes us.”

Mr Kinkaid also reported that dissident republicans opposed to Sinn Féin's peace process strategy continued to target the security forces and others and were responsible for a spate of recent incendiary attacks.

Mr Orde also confirmed earlier in the meeting that there had been a number of arrests against dissident republicans and other people with suspected links to republicans and loyalists over extortion.

Individuals linked to dissident groups, Mr Kinkaid said, also were involved in criminal activities.

He also reported that the threat from loyalist paramilitary groups remained despite attempts by some to operate a ceasefire.

The number of loyalist paramilitary-style assaults and punishment shootings remained high and members of the groups continued to commit robberies and there was heavy involvement in extortion.

Policing Board members were told that all paramilitary groups continued to recruit and to train members.

Mr Paisley queried whether Mr Adams’ statement yesterday was just words or whether there was any substance to them.

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