Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has responded to the publication of reports by both An Garda Siochána and the Northern Ireland Secretary of State on paramilitarism.
Deputy Martin commented, “Both reports are succinct, severe and stark. The facts within them paint a disconcerting picture and will be source of major concern for very many people. When I first called for an updated report into paramilitary activity, I did so because two men had been murdered and because the most senior police officers in the North judged that members of an organisation we had all been told had left the stage, were responsible.
“The reports today confirm that this assessment was correct and that we continue to have a major problem with paramilitaries on both sides of the border.
“For this reason I have called on the Taoiseach to work to establish a cross-border agency to lead a properly resourced crackdown on these organisations. The Good Friday Agreement enjoyed the overwhelming support of the Irish people – the continued existence of these groups is in direct contradiction of this mandate and directly undermines the entire peace process.
“The attempt by Sinn Féin to distract from the key findings and instead attack those who comment on them, will convince no one and serves only to remind citizens of the deeply dishonest and disingenuous position the party has taken throughout this crisis.
“Too many good people have spent too much time investing in the peace process for it to be thrown away. The risk of that good work being undone grows every day that these paramilitaries continue to exist. As a starting point, their fundraising and wholesale smuggling and counterfeiting need to be stopped and prosecutions brought. Given the cross border nature of the crime, it needs a robust cross border response and I will continue to press the Taoiseach on this.
“As a next step, we need politicians from all sides of the political divide in Northern Ireland to start being honest about the ongoing presence and role of paramilitaries.
“Fianna Fáil is proud of the role we have played in developing the peace process and we will not shirk from telling the hard truths necessary to place it on a permanent and sustainable footing.”