Just to clarify

Following the furore caused by the apparently contradictory assessments of assistant chief constable, Sam Kinkaid, and NIO Security Minister Shaun Woodward, in relation to the Provisional IRA and organised crime, the BBC report that Shaun Woodward has written to the Chairman of the Policing Board, Desmond Rea, to clarify his comments.. Worthwhile checking back to what Shaun Woodward said back in December.. just to be completely clear on his position..What he has now stated, according to the report, is that –

“There is clearly a distinction to be made between the activity of individuals and the intention of organisations. “The point I have been making is that government believes that the Provisional leadership intends to take the organisation in a different direction.”[emphasis added]

He added: “I am clear, as are the PSNI, that there have been significant changes in PIRA activity, including in the area of criminality, since July.

“But there are complex assessments to be made in distinguishing between criminality by individual PIRA members for their own gain and criminality carried out by PIRA members which is authorised by the organisation.

“It is the job of the IMC to comment on these difficult issues. We are all agreed, and have repeatedly said, that what is critical is the forthcoming independent assessment of the IMC.”

I’ve added the emphasis for a reason.. and that is to compare it directly with what Shaun Woodward originally said.. rather than following the direction he seems to wish to push the debate towards.

Here are his previous reported comments

“We are talking about many tens and tens of millions of pounds.

“(But) we have got to be cautious about saying it`s still being run by the IRA. It`s being run by people who have been involved historically with paramilitary organisations. That`s what we know.

The IRA have made it clear they have given up criminality[emphasis added]. There`s a lot of evidence to support that.

“That doesn`t mean to say there aren`t individuals out there on both sides of the equation who may be involved in it. But that doesn`t mean those organisations are involved in it.

“I can be confident from the evidence I`m given.”

“intends to”.. “have given up”..

Everything clear now? Of course, if the NIO Security Minister didn’t intend his position in December to be reported as being so definitive, which it was, he should have clarified the issue then..

Just to clarify further, the complex assessments of distinguishing between individuals being responsible and organisations being responsible relates to plausible deniability.