ALLIANCE Leader David Ford MLA has said that no-one should be surprised that the Chief Constable has linked the IRA to the Northern Bank robbery.
Mr Ford stated:
“No-one should be surprised that Hugh Orde named the IRA in relation to the Northern Bank heist, as the Government never insisted in the recent talks that the Republican Movement ends its criminal activities.
“The Government has allowed the IRA to continue to define the terms of its own ceasefire, which means that criminal and low-level paramilitary activity can continue to plague Northern Ireland without meaningful consequence.
“Few people can understand why, after his talk about ‘acts of completion’, Tony Blair was prepared to accept much less than Paragraph 13 of the Joint Declaration in the ambiguity of the so-called ‘comprehensive agreement’.
“We need to set up a government where the parties involved can have confidence in each other, and the basis of a functioning government has to be a degree of trust between participants. What the governments have been working on for last year was intended to function in the absence of trust – but they couldn’t even manage that.
“It is a bit rich for Tony Blair to now say “the ban on terrorist activity includes a complete prohibition on criminal activity as well”, since he has gone out of his way to avoid talking about IRA criminality.
“The recent talks focussed on the sole issue of decommissioning, but Alliance has long warned the Government that the real threat is paramilitary and criminal activity. Sadly, we appear to have been right.
“The Government should request a report from the IMC giving its assessment of Hugh Orde’s statement and proposing appropriate remedial measures.
“That the IRA was blamed for the Northern Bank robbery, is a further blow to trust between the parties. I believe that restoring devolution will now be much more difficult. The best method may well be a voluntary coalition of parties that can establish trust.”