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Significant number of ex-Provos involved in organised crime says Garda report

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said no political conclusions can be drawn from the security assessment on the IRA

SECURITY chiefs in the Republic have warned of the significant number of former Provisional IRA members involved in organised crime.

The review of known Provos, carried out simultaneously with the British assessment, said they were in it for personal gain, they work together and often use their reputations and old terror tactics.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said no political conclusions can be drawn from the security assessment on the IRA.

But she said it was fully consistent with the assessments provided previously and reports from the defunct Independent Monitoring Commission.

The Garda review found a substantial legacy from the republican terror group that must be addressed was the influence former Provos have on dissidents – 70 people were charged from November 1 2010 with terror offences including IRA membership, firearms and explosives offences, 33 of whom were considered former Provos.

On former Provos involvement in crime, the review said: "They make full use of their 'legacy' reputations and in some cases their former terrorist tactics.

"No evidence has emerged in the course of the review which has been undertaken that that activity is directed by leadership of the organisation or that it is for other than personal gain."

Since Ireland set up the Criminal Assets Bureau in 1996 to tackle the gains from organised crime €28 million has been taken from 50 people believed to have IRA links.

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan said there is no evidence of any recruitment to the Provos ranks in "recent years".

"It was never the position of the IMC – nor has it been the position of An Garda Síochána – that PIRA had disbanded and, accordingly, ceased to exist," she said.

"But the issues surrounding the continued existence of PIRA are inevitably complex.

"Obviously PIRA does not exist as the organisation it did, say, 20 years ago which was involved in what it regarded as 'armed conflict'."

The commissioner said separate inquiries continued into allegations of sex abuse by IRA members.

The review found intelligence and clear evidence of former terrorists adopting exclusively political or community roles or to quit the republican movement altogether.

On dissidents it warned: "Defections to dissident groups is often accompanied by acrimony, threats and physical attacks between former close associates sometimes resulting in violent attacks on each other.

"An atmosphere of suspicion and derision often prevails and the gathering of information or intelligence may occur, mainly for the purpose of ascertaining the nature of any threat from dissident republicans."

The Garda said members of the IRA's army council still associate but it has no intelligence of the terror group's top ranks meeting in the Republic.

"There is evidence that a type of 'residual leadership', committed to peaceful means, continues to exist and has become involved from time to time in dealing with 'legacy' issues," the review said.

It noted the work of the Smithwick tribunal into the deaths of two senior RUC officers by the IRA in south Armagh where collusion with a mole in the Garda had been suspected and the work to recover the IRA Disappeared.

The Garda said the old network of the IRA, which was based in the Republic for logistical needs gradually faded and disbanded after 1998.

Ms Fitzgerald said: "The assessments relate to security matters, not any political conclusions which can be drawn from them.

"But it is important for those of us who have been committed all our lives to democratic principles to make one thing clear: the legacy of PIRA is appalling and those with whom they were inextricably linked cannot shirk their responsibilities in relation to it. Nor is it acceptable on any part of this island, for whatever purposes, to seek to retain the substance or the shadow of a gunman."

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