Sean Murray said 'he knew' there was no case to answer in gun running allegations
VETERAN republican Sean 'Spike' Murray, has spoken publicly for the first time since the Public Prosecution Service announced he would not face charges in relation to alleged gun running from the Unites States.
In 2014 a BBC Spotlight investigation alleged Mr Murray had conspired with a Florida businessman to ship weapons to Northern Ireland.
Speaking to the Irish News yesterday Mr Murray said: "I knew this long time there was no case to answer."
"I said from day one that there was no foundation to these allegations and they've been hanging there for four years."
Mr Murray was speaking after taking part in a panel discussion about tackling paramilitarism which included senior PSNI officer Detective Superintendent Bobby Singleton.
During the discussion on the first report of the Independent Reporting Commission on paramilitarism he said paramilitary-style activities in working class communities had "no political conotation...they are criminal acts and should be seen and treated as such".
"There is a fear factor and a perception that some of these people are untouchable, you can't ask the community to come out and stand up against them when the criminal justice system aren't dealing with them.
"People have to sign up to peaceful and democratic means going forward," he said.
"Republicans had to sign up this process, I've lost friends over the years, good friends because we said, you follow the peace process you follow the political process or else there is the door.
"The problem is that loyalists and loyalist groups continue to engage with those they know are involved in criminality, if they don't detach themselves from those gangs they will end up going down with them, so they need to make that choice, as republicans we made that choice a long time ago," he said.
He also said he thought it was possible to advance issues linked to dealing with the past. "If we can get legislation, on the back of the legacy consultation process, I think we can deal with the past".
"When we engaged with the victims groups the one thing they all said was 'please don't close down any options', initially our policy was an international truth commission, the British government wouldn't buy into that during the Eames/Bradley process", he said.
"So we looked at all the options both justice and information recovery, in the full knowledge that given the passage of time, there are never going to be many convictions, so focus has to be placed on information recovery mechanism and all groups have to engage with that.
"The problem will be will that go through Westminster without being nobbled by the British military lobby, who would try and bring in an amnesty for British state forces, which is totally unacceptable", he added.