SINN Féin’s six-county chair Bobby Storey said today that the “IRA has gone away and is not coming back”.
He was arrested last week by detectives investigating the murder of Kevine McGuigan.
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has stated that members of the Provisional IRA were involved in McGuigan’s murder last month.
After almost two days in custody, Storey was released “unconditionally” along with Eddie Copeland and Brian Gillen.
Speaking at a news conference in Andersonstown, west Belfast, the IRA’s former head of intelligence said unionists viewed the IRA as a caterpillar that was still in existence.
But Storey said the IRA was in fact “now a butterfly which has flown away”.
He added that the IRA “has gone away and is not coming back”.
In a statement, he said he would continue to play a constructive role in defending the peace process despite his grave concerns about his arrest.
The statement reads:
“I am very mindful of the two grieving families of Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan who deserve justice.
“The people who murdered both men are criminals and the enemies of the Sinn Féin peace strategy.
“Every effort must be made to ensure they are brought before the courts to face due process.
“I repeat again the calls by my party colleagues that anyone with any information should bring that forward to the PSNI.
“The only way to deal with these killings is through the criminal justice system.
“I absolutely reject the attempts of the unionist parties to cynically use these murders and my wrongful detention to threaten the political institutions.
“As six-county chair of Sinn Féin I have contributed to the development of Sinn Féin policy in support of an accountable police service, and of working political institutions.
“My commitment to that remains resolute and neither Sinn Féin or I will be deterred by the actions of criminals.
“The PSNI had no basis for arresting me.
“At no time during my detention did the police present a shred of evidence or intelligence, which in either my opinion or the opinion of my solicitor, warranted my arrest.
“Questions must be asked about the timing and nature of my wrongful arrest.
“I will be raising these matters through the accountability mechanisms that my party and I and others worked hard to put in place.
“I have also instructed my solicitor John Finucane to take legal proceedings against the Chief Constable.
“I also want to make a couple of points about media coverage and the political fall-out arising from my arrest.
“My party and I have been subjected to trial by media by sections of the media.
“The presumption of innocence was set aside and accusations and allegations against me were carried as if fact.
“It appears that for some journalists a briefing from anonymous figures within the PSNI or British security services is to be taken as undisputed fact.
“After 40 years of clear evidence of censorship, media manipulation, dirty tricks, collusion, the use of agents and informers, and the murder of citizens the willingness of some within the media to set aside due process is unacceptable.
“The behavior of the unionist parties, who have cynically used my arrest to pull down the political institutions, has been nothing short of disgraceful.
“They have succeeded only in holding the political process to ransom and providing encouragement to the dissident elements and the criminals who murdered Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan.
“Neither my party or I will allow the criminals to win.
“I will continue to play a constructive role in the time ahead in defending the peace process against the actions of those who seek to drag us back to the past.”