“Provisional IRA members believe the Provisional Army Council oversees both PIRA and Sinn Féin with an overarching strategy.”

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, has published the  assessment of “the structure, role and purpose of paramilitary groups focusing on those which declared ceasefires in order to support and facilitate the political process”.  Theresa Villiers’ statement to Parliament is here.

The letter to the Secretary of State [pdf file] from the independent reviewers confirming the completion of their assessment is also available.

We are satisfied that:

i) MI5 and PSNI have engaged fully with us, consistent with their duties and constraints:

ii) The assessments provided by MI5 and PSNI are the product of the methods and techniques described in the Annex to the public assessment:

iii) The assessments are fair and balanced:

iv) The assessments are evidence based, credible and supported by material collected and collated in accordance with the methodologies set out in the Annex to the public assessment.

Of particular interest will be the assessment of the Provisional IRA.  From the published assessment [pdf file]

12. Structure: The structures of the PIRA remain in existence in a much reduced form. This includes a senior leadership, the ‘Provisional Army Council’ (PAC), and some ‘departments’ with specific responsibilities. At a lower level, there are some regional command structures. At this lower level, some activity takes place without the knowledge or direction of the leadership.  We do not believe the group is actively recruiting. The group took part in decommissioning between 2001 and 2005 but continues to have access to some weapons. We judge PIRA has not conducted organised procurement of new weaponry in the period since the last IMC report of 2011.

13. Role: PIRA members believe that the PAC oversees both PIRA and Sinn Féin with an overarching strategy. We judge this strategy has a wholly political focus. PIRA members have been directed to actively support Sinn Féin within the community including activity like electioneering and leafleting. Some PIRA members are involved in gathering information of interest to the group including details of [Dissident Republican (DR)] activities and attempted identification of covert human intelligence sources [CHIS]. A small number are involved in the storage of remaining weaponry in order to prevent its loss to DRs. Individual PIRA members remain involved in criminal activity, such as large scale smuggling, and there have been isolated incidences of violence, including murders.  The investigation into the murder of Kevin McGuigan is still ongoing; however, we judge that the assessment put forward by the Chief Constable in his public statement on 22 August remains accurate. [added emphasis]

14. Purpose: The PIRA of the Troubles era is well beyond recall.  It is our firm assessment that PIRA’s leadership remains committed to the peace process and its aim of achieving a united Ireland by political means.  The group is not involved in targeting or conducting terrorist attacks against the state or its representatives.  There have only been very limited indications of dissent to date and we judge that this has been addressed effectively by the leadership.

And here is the general assessment of the ‘roles’ of all the paramilitary groups under review

v.  None of these groups is planning or conducting terrorist attacks.  Members of the UDA and UVF have been directed towards community engagement including conflict resolution activities.  Members of PIRA have been directed to become involved in the politics of the Provisional movement.  Most have nothing to do with dissident paramilitary groups. However, some INLA members have provided support to DRs.

vi. Members of these paramilitary groups continue to engage in violent activity, both directed by local leadership and conducted without sanction. Violence and intimidation are used to exercise control at a community level. The scale has vastly reduced from the period of the Troubles but still includes paramilitary-style assaults and, on occasion, murders; members of all groups have carried out murders since the 1998 Belfast Agreement. [added emphasis]

vii. Members of these paramilitary groups, to different degrees, are also involved in other serious criminal activity, which harms communities and damages the financial prosperity and reputation of NI. This includes large-scale smuggling operations, fuel laundering, drug dealing and extortion of local businesses. Although the majority of paramilitary weapons were decommissioned, some were not and individual members have since procured small numbers of firearms.  The IMC has already reported that some quantities of weaponry under the control of members of the UVF, UDA and PIRA may not have been decommissioned.

Interestingly, on the point about the Provisional IRA leadership and their roleat the start of September the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, had been keen to emphasise that,

“There’s only one republican leadership, which is the Ard Chomhairle of Sinn Féin, which is duly and transparently elected at our Ard Fheis.”

As I mentioned at the time…

Of course, if he is wrong, again, then the crisis is not contrived, and he will have to explain the relationship between the leadership of the Provisional IRA and that of the other public leadership of his party.  But that’s his problem.  Not Somebody Else’s…

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