PSNI chief stays silent on Adams IRA claims

The PSNI Chief Constable has refused to confirm if an investigation is under way into claims that the former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was involved with the IRA.

He revealed he has not asked for a current assessment on the IRA’s status, considering it is not immediately relevant.

During a wide-ranging interview with broadcaster Stephen Nolan on his BBC Radio Ulster show yesterday, Simon Byrne warned paramilitary groups “we are coming”.

Mr Adams has been repeatedly accused of being a member of the IRA. A major BBC ‘Spotlight’ documentary last month aired claims from a former member of the IRA’s army council that Mr Adams was at one stage its chairman.

Mr Adams has always denied being a member of the IRA.

In May he told the inquest into the deaths of 10 people at Ballymurphy: “I was not a member of the IRA, I have never disassociated myself with the IRA, and I never will, until the day I die.”

Mr Byrne refused to be drawn on the allegations levelled at the Louth TD, and whether they were subject to investigation. He said it was for “others to follow the evidence”.

In 2015, Mr Byrne’s predecessor George Hamilton assessed the structures of the Provisional IRA (PIRA) and said it still existed although it was not involved in terrorism.

Mr Hamilton said at the time that “some of the PIRA structure from the 1990s remains broadly in place, although its purpose has radically changed since this period”.

“Our assessment indicates that a primary focus of the Provisional IRA is now promoting a peaceful, political, republican agenda,” he said.

Mr Byrne said he did not know the current status of the terror group and had no information suggesting the four-year-old assessment had changed.

He said he had regular briefings on threats from terrorist groups and their influence.

“That conversation has not led me down a route to believe the PIRA exists in the way you say,” Mr Byrne said.

In relation to the UVF, Mr Byrne said it was not a group “in conflict” but still exerted influence in communities.

“We need to make sure the legitimate power and control in communities is with the police,” he said.

He said his message to all paramilitaries was “we are coming” and he would use every power available to dismantle their criminal networks.

Last week, Mr Byrne said PSNI officers will not “staff any form of Border security” after the UK leaves the EU. However, he admitted yesterday there will be occasions when the PSNI will have to be called in to police customs centres on a case-by-case basis.

He said he was in the dark about arrangements after October 31.

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