The report on paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland comes to a very stark conclusion that the IRA army council still exists and the report endorses PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton's assessment that the IRA exists, that some of its members were implicated in the murder of Kevin McGuigan and that the Provisional IRA, PIRA, members believe the Provisional IRA army council oversees both PIRA and Sinn Féin with an overarching strategy. The fundamental question for our republic that we must answer and which the report does not ask is the threat to democracy from an organisation that is involved with politics but which retains a military structure, with an active intelligence gathering department and access to weaponry. Those fundamental questions leap from this report, no matter how uncomfortable and unpalatable they may be, and we need to respond to them. We need full honesty and transparency in that regard.
Additionally, the report indicates that individual PIRA members remain involved with criminal activity, such as large-scale smuggling, and there have been isolated incidents of violence, including murders. We know from the report of the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána that the Criminal Assets Bureau, since its establishment in 1996, has raised approximately €28 million from the proceeds of crimes, actions and tax assessment with respect to over 50 individuals with connections or associations with the Provisional IRA in the past. Other investigations are proceeding.
I put the fundamental question to the Taoiseach yesterday. This illustrates the absolute need for the British and Irish Governments to establish a strong, well-resourced joint agency to tackle, once and for all, the organised crime being undertaken by paramilitaries. In the context of the Provisional IRA and its members, we must ask whether people are absolutely certain that any of the proceeds from the organised crime being committed by alleged individual provo republicans is not finding its way to the political project. I do not say that lightly.