The PSNI has intelligence to lead them to loyalist paramilitary arms dumps once the decommissioning period has ended, a top officer claimed today.
Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan also said once the timeframe of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) has closed any weaponry seized will result in the prosecution of those linked to the arms.
When asked if the PSNI can locate the sites he said: “Well, the short answer to that is yes — and then if the opportunity to arrest and prosecute is there, we will.” Mr Sheridan, the chief of Special Branch, said they will DNA weapons and fingerprint them in order to get forensic evidence.
However he added that he did not know if loyalist decommissioning was “inevitable”.
“Policing here is still very much enshrined in politics. No other police service has an IMC (Independent Monitoring Commission). No other police service has an IICD.”
Northern Ireland’s most senior Catholic police officer, who retires this September, told the Irish News that he also welcomed comments by Secretary of State Shaun Woodward in relation to loyalist weapons.
“The Secretary of State has pointed out clearly to all the terrorist groupings that it is going to come to the stage that we are not going to have an IICD,” he said.
“And when that time comes, if police find weapons that belong to whatever terrorist organisation then they will be dealt with through the criminal law.
“There is a window of opportunity that exists before then for those holding weapons.”
Mr Sheridan, who is set to become chief executive of the cross-border charity Cooperation Ireland, said he is concerned weapons would be used in further criminal activity by dissidents leading to “fall-outs among thieves”.
“The concern I have it that they will start to use those weapons against each other-should that be around drugs, smuggling or money laundering,” he said.
“They do have an opportunity to deal with them (weapons) but that opportunity is fast closing down so they should do us all a favour and get rid of them.”