Mary Lou McDonald: 'The IRA have gone away'
SINN Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said the Provisional IRA have "gone away".
In a wide-ranging interview with the News Letter, the Dublin TD rejected suggestions the paramilitary group is still in existence or is involved in forming Sinn Féin's policies.
Ms McDonald said in her "experience Sinn Féin has always been an independent political party; Sinn Féin is not the IRA; Sinn Féin is an independent structure".
Several weeks ago, PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton told a television debate that “the IRA still exists but not for a terrorist purpose” and that the PSNI's assessment of it “hasn’t changed since 2015”.
Following the murder of ex-IRA man Kevin McGuigan Snr in 2015, Mr Hamilton said "some of the Provisional IRA structure from the 1990s remains broadly in place" but its purpose "has radically changed since this period".
The senior officer said the IRA remains committed to politics and is not engaged in terrorism.
Ms McDonald told the News Letter the paramilitary group is no longer in existence.
"I look to the streets for the evidence of what's going on and it is manifestly clear that the campaign is over, that the war is over, that the IRA have gone away," she said.
"They've made statements to that effect, weapons have been decommissioned, an apology has been made, etc., etc. So that says to me that there is no IRA."
When asked if she believed former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams' claim he was never an IRA member, she replied: "I do, yeah".
She added: "Gerry doesn't have a conviction for IRA membership and I think he's explained the politics of how he's come to be involved in republicanism and Sinn Féin when Sinn Féin was barely in existence and he's given all of that narrative".