Máiría Cahill was speaking after the PSNI affirmed that the 2015 government finding that the IRA Army Council was overseeing Sinn Fein strategy still remains unchanged in 2019.
The government report, published in 2015, concluded that the second largest political party in NI continued to be overseen by the deadliest terror group of the Troubles, which although much reduced in scale and “committed to the peace process”, still has “specific” departments and “regional command structures”, gathers intelligence, retains weapons and may engage in “isolated violence” including murder.
The PSNI confirmed its current assessment to the News Letter after the latest paramilitary monitoring panel, the Independent Review Commission (IRC), failed to mention either the IRA or INLA in its report this week.
Ms Cahill comes from a strong Belfast republican family, her great-uncle Joe Cahill being one of the founders of the Provisional IRA and a member of the IRA Army Council into the 1990s.
She created national headlines in 2010 when she claimed she was raped as a teenager by an IRA man and that the republican movement subsequently went to serious lengths to cover it up.
She went on to become a senator for the Irish Labour Party and later served as a councillor for the SDLP.
After reading the renewed assessment of the role of the IRA Army Council in NI politics, she says the public deserves clear answers from Sinn Fein.
“The last time this was reported, Sinn Fein were at pains to contradict the PSNI assessment saying the IRA had gone away, which was largely dismissed,” she told the News Letter.
“An assessment from the PSNI that in 2019 nothing has changed, and that an illegal organisation is overseeing strategy for a supposed democratic political party comes as no surprise to me, but the real surprise is that in any other normal society, the political party would be under pressure to end this relationship and cast the spectre of the graying old toxic men of its Army Council into the shadows where they belong.
“The fact that this relationship exists means that a reasonable question to ask would be that every time Sinn Fein took a decision in the Stormont Executive, did they effectively bounce this to the IRA Army Council to seek permission?
“The public have a right to know, given they elect them. And if so, which sanctions will be put in place in advance of the next Executive to stop unelected shadowy figures having access to confidential government information?
“Did the IRA tell Sinn Fein to bring the Executive down because it didn’t suit their ‘overseeing of Sinn Fein strategy’? Those are the questions that should be asked.”
Sinn Fein has not offered any response to her questions.
With many thanks to the: Belfast News Letter and Philip Bradfield for the original story