Police have indications that the Irish Republican Army may still be active in some form a decade after its public disbandment as part of a power-sharing deal, a senior official in the British province of Northern Ireland said on Friday.
His remark prompted a flat denial from a senior figure in Sinn Fein, the ex-political wing of the IRA and now part of Northern Ireland's government.
The IRA's dissolution was a central plank of the 1998 Good Friday accord that largely ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland between Catholics who favored unification with the Republic of Ireland and Protestants wanting to stay British.
Former IRA members are active in a number of small "dissident" militant groups that rejected the 1998 Good Friday accords. However, if the main IRA was proved to be still operational, the current power-sharing government between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland could collapse.
Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford cited indications of the IRA still existing following the murder of Kevin McGuigan, a former IRA member, in Belfast on Aug. 12 that police say may have involved fellow ex-guerrillas.
Ford, from the non-Sectarian Alliance Party, said he was told of police concerns at a briefing about their investigation into the murder of McGuigan.
"The briefing I received from the chief constable... was that they were talking about people who are or were members of the Provisional IRA, so clearly there is a concern ... that there may be current IRA members involved," Ford told the Irish state broadcaster RTE.