The Provisional IRA may still exists as an organization but its leadership did not sanction the murder of former republican prisoner Kevin McGuigan, according to Northern Ireland’s chief constable. The murder was believed to be a revenge killing for the slaying of a major former IRA figure Jock Davison who was feuding with McGuigan.

The important development came as unionist leaders threatened a walk out and shut down of the political institutions if the opposite was found and top level provos were involved.

The head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, George Hamilton, confirmed that individual PIRA members were involved in killing McGuigan but it was not sanctioned by the leadership.

The PSNI chief constable insisted the PIRA’s organizational structure was there primarily for “promoting a peaceful political republican agenda.” 

He said: “We have no information to suggest that violence, as seen in the murder of Kevin McGuigan, was sanctioned or directed at a senior level in the republican movement.

However, he stated: “Some current Provisional IRA and former members continue to engage in a range of criminal activity and occasional violence in the interest of personal gain or personal agendas.”

But Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, denied the IRA had been behind the killing and instead chose to attack those who suggested the organization had carried out McGuigan’s murder. Adams criticized those who had “opportunistically and cynically seized” on the murder to “undermine Sinn Féin’s mandate and the peace process.”

During the chief constable’s press conference, he sought  to link the murder to a group called Action Against Drugs, which he claimed not only included PIRA members but also ordinary criminals and dissident republicans opposed to the peace process.