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Gang murder guns ‘may be former IRA rifles’

By Gordon Rayner CHIEF REPORTER The Telegraph:

ASSAULT rifles used in a recent murder in Dublin could have been former IRA weapons that escaped decommissioning, one of the official observers of the process has said.

The Rev Harold Good, one of two church ministers who verified that IRA arms had been “put beyond use”, said there had always been an acceptance that some “stray weapons” had been retained by splinter groups who were not signed up to the peace process.

The murder of gangster David Byrne at a boxing weigh-in on Feb 5 was politicised when Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach, suggested three AK47 assault rifles used by the killers may have been owned by the Provi- sional IRA before it was disbanded. It led to an angry response from Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, who said the IRA and its weapons had gone, and “Enda Kenny knows that”.

On Feb 8 a man was shot dead in what is believed to be retaliation for Mr Byrne’s death.

Mr Good, a former president of the Methodist Church in Ireland, and Catholic priest Father Alec Reid, acted as independent witnesses to verify that IRA arms had been decommissioned by an international body headed by Canadian General John de Chastelain.

When the final arms were destroyed in 2005, Gen de Chastelain said he was confident the “totality of the IRA’s arsenal” had been put beyond use. But Mr Good told

“The general did say there were weapons that could have been in the hands of dissidents or people who had died and so not every single weapon could be accounted for. There were weapons that could have gone astray but we don’t know if that is the source of these weapons [used in the murder].”

The murder of 33-year-old Mr Byrne was claimed by a group calling itself the Continuity IRA, but the Continuity IRA has denied it was behind the hit.

Police believe the murder of Mr Byrne was one of a series of revenge killings by rival drug gangs, which appeared to be the case on Feb 8 when Eddie Hutch Sr was shot dead at his home in Dublin.

Kevin Myers: Page 14





Daily Telegraph