Time all IRA structures to be dismantled - Flanagan

Charlie Flanagan gives first response to British government report on paramilitaries

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has said that it is now time for any paramilitary structure associated with the IRA be "severed and dismantled".

Mr Flanagan was responding on Tuesday to the British government report into the status of paramilitaries in Northern Ireland.

It found the IRA remained in existence albeit in a much reduced form. It also concluded the IRA council was still operation.

Mr Flanagan told The Irish Times the report made for difficult reading.


“The report acknowledges that paramilitary organisations no longer represent a terrorist threat.

"It does however point to a level of unacceptable activity by various groups in Northern Ireland that needs to be addressed.

“The assessment brings into focus the importance of the talks that are currently underway,” he said.

Mr Flanagan said he welcomed the fact the DUP was re-entering government and said he expected the talks underway in Stormont would intensify.

“This assessment was always going to feed into the talks, especially for the legacy of paramilitaries which we will discussing this week

“Our aim is to create a Northern Ireland that is completely free from the legacy of paramilitarism.”

In a reference to Sinn Féin, Mr Flanagan said there was a responsibility on all parties associated with paramilitary groups to deal with the issue.

“It is seventeen years since the Good Friday Agreement. There is no place on the island of Ireland for paramilitary activity or organised criminal activity of a type that we now see.”

He pointed out the assessment made it clear the Provisional IRA was not involved in terrorism, or recruitment or the procurement of weapons or materiel.

In a reference to the continuance of structures, he said: “It’s time that any paramilitary structure or associations are severed and dismantled.”

He said the assessment also provide a stark profile of loyalist paramilitarism but said he accepted in this jurisdiction the main political focus was on the IRA.

“I believe it’s important that DUP continue to stay the course in the talks.

“There is a real obligation on everybody to work together and deal once and for all with the legacy of paramilitarism,” he said.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times