21 January 2006

IRA leak 'does not match reality'


Peter Hain said everyone awaited the IMC report

A leak from a confidential Policing Board meeting over IRA activity bears "little resemblance" to reality, the NI secretary has said.

Peter Hain was speaking for the first time about the row involving Security Minister Shaun Woodward and the board.

It follows the refusal of a senior PSNI officer to accept Mr Woodward's view that the IRA as an organisation was no longer involved in crime.

But Mr Hain told the BBC everyone was now waiting for the IMC's assessment.

The Independent Monitoring Commission is due to report early next month.

"We cannot rely on leaks from the Police Board without any record of what was actually said," he said.

"The leaks bear very little resemblance, if any, to what I understand actually occurred there.

"What is very clear is that the chief constable, his chief investigating officers, my security minister and myself are all at one in awaiting the outcome of the Independent Monitoring Commission report which will make as assessment.

"Then we will all be able to form a judgement."

The Policing Board remains at odds with Mr Woodward.

A police briefing to the board said the IRA was involved in organised crime, but last month Mr Woodward said the IRA is no longer involved in such activity.

Mr Woodward wrote to the board and said there was a distinction between the actions of individuals and the "intention of organisations".

Board chairman Desmond Rea said this did not address the board's concerns.

On Thursday, Sir Hugh Orde defended Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid's assessment of IRA involvement in organised crime.

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