I thank the Ceann Comhairle for selecting this very important matter for discussion. Yesterday's report by the PSNI and MI5 on paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland contained serious findings that have profound repercussions for the island. Its basic conclusion that the Provisional IRA army council directs both the IRA and Sinn Féin strategy and that its members are engaged in serious criminality, particularly around the Border, is a direct threat to democracy on this island. The IRA has not gone away and it has not left the stage. Instead, the report states, it is writing the entire script. I refer also to the report's findings on other paramilitary groups. It states "All the main paramilitary groups operating during the period of the Troubles remain in existence: this includes the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), Red Hand Commando (RHC), Ulster Defence Association (UDA), Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) and Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)". It is absolutely horrendous that these paramilitary groups remain in existence on our island 17 years after the endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement by the overwhelming majority of the people on all of this island. North and South, we are left with a party that is actively controlled and directed by an armed criminal group. The nexus of money, intelligence gathering and community control is part of a poisonous political project.
I understand that the Criminal Assets Bureau, CAB, has extracted more than €28 million in ill-gotten gains from more than 50 IRA members since the ceasefire, as mentioned in the House today. A number of court cases are ongoing as CAB delves into a dark financial empire worth an estimated €500 million that generates €70 million per annum. This is a criminal conspiracy founded on racketeering, fuel laundering, cigarette smuggling and other illicit activities. Its direction and objective are political control. Its legacy is murder and fear stalking the Border. We know its calling cards, for example, the brutal murder of Paul Quinn, who had every bone in his body smashed by the IRA before a twisted code of omerta and community intimidation silenced his screams from ever being heard in the justice system. That bloody violence and grim control is the conspiracy's hallmark. Paramilitarism in any community and from whatever source can no longer be ignored or indulged. Paramilitarism manipulating and controlling a political party is nothing short of a direct threat to our democracy and the hard-earned and tested institutions of this State.
It is imperative that we renew and revitalise the hope and energy of the Good Friday Agreement. We are all aware of the major effort made by various Governments, organisations and parties to bring the Agreement about. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade should consider whether a fresh mandate for the Independent Monitoring Commission, IMC, is needed to keep paramilitarism under check until it withers away from the communities that it is sucking dry. We need fresh resources for the Garda to confront the rampant criminality in the Border region. In particular, I reiterate my calls for a cross-Border agency to get to grips with the challenge. Last March, I introduced legislation in the House regarding the establishment of a cross-Border agency, the remit of which would be to deal with this criminality.
Fianna Fáil believes in the Good Friday Agreement and its great potential for all of the island. We believe that we can work peacefully and openly towards reunifying this historic island. The spectre of armed gangs calling the shots in political parties and orchestrating a criminal empire is a fundamental threat to that ideal.