They had never gone away

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Four sets of quotes spanning 16 years on the Provisional IRA and its ceasefire. In each case emphasis has been added by me.

After the July 1999 murder of Belfast taxi driver and low-level police informer Charles Bennett:

The official response to his murder, delivered on Thursday by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mo Mowlam, has thrown a shadow over the peace process. Almost in the same breath, she declared that “there is no doubt that the IRA were involved in the Bennett murder” and that there is “not a sufficient basis to conclude that the IRA ceasefire has broken down.” — (Irish Independent)

The ceasefire relates to attacks against the British state, but the IRA retains the right to deal with matters in its own community, said a republican source. “That includes taking action against informers, carrying out `punishment’ attacks, and `policing’ dissidents if need be.” — (Irish Times)


 

At the sentencing in 2010 of Harry Fitzsimmons, convicted of the 2004 abduction of dissident Bobby Tohill from Kelly’s Cellars pub in Belfast City Centre:

Belfast Crown Court was told the attack in February 2004 was meant as a message to Tohill not to oppose the then fledgling peace process.

Jailing Fitzsimmons for what he described as a violent preplanned attack, Belfast Crown Court judge Lord Justice Girvan said it was “ironic” the Provisionals should, in the so-called interests of peace, use violence and intimidation to secure their ends. — (BBC)


 

In response to reported threats against the life of senior Belfast Republican Seamus Finucane by the armed dissident group Oglaigh na hEireann:

All sorts of thin lines were being walked. One source, commenting on the likely implications of any attack on Seamus Finucane, or any other mainstream republican figure, commented: “They [the dissidents] would be swatted like flies.” And that comment tells you that the IRA could be resurrected. … What would happen if they attacked a senior republican? They know the answer to that question. “The gear [guns] would be out,” one of them told me. — (Belfast Telegraph)


 

After the murder two weeks ago of former IRA man Kevin McGuigan in apparent retaliation for the May killing of former senior IRA member Gerard Davison:

One of our major lines of enquiry is that members of the Provisional IRA were involved in this murder. I have no information to say at this stage whether this was sanctioned at a command level or not and I am not prepared to speculate about that. — (PSNI Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes)

Individual members cooperated in shooting dead Kevin McGuigan in East Belfast but organisational structures have brought members of the outlawed organisation along the path of peace, Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton said.

Mr Hamilton said: “They are not on a war footing, they are not involved in paramilitary activity in the sense that they were during part of the conflict.” — (RTE News)

Reacting to Mr Hamilton’s view, [Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa] Villiers said: “It didn’t come as a surprise to me. My understanding is, very much in line with that of the chief constable, that a number of the organisational structures of the Provisional IRA still exist but that there is no evidence it’s involved in terrorism or paramilitary activity.” — (Belfast Telegraph)

But if you listened to Bobby Storey back in June 2014, you knew all this already.

We have a message for the British Government, for the Irish Government, for the cabal that is out there: we haven’t gone away, you know. — (Belfast Telegraph)