IRA Florida gun-running case is reopened

Mike Logan made the claims on the BBC's Spotlight programme Mike Logan made the claims on the BBC's Spotlight programme on Tuesday night

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Police are to reinvestigate claims that the Provisional IRA bought guns from America and smuggled them into Northern Ireland in the late 1990s.

It follows a BBC Spotlight programme that alleged a senior member of Sinn Féin was involved in a gun-running operation from Florida.

A self-confessed gun-runner told the programme Sean 'Spike' Murray was involved in smuggling guns before and after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Murray has denied the allegations.

The senior Sinn Féin strategist described the claims made in the programme as "without foundation".

'Hundreds of guns'

The accusation was made by gun-runner Mike Logan, a former stockbroker based in Florida.

During Tuesday night's broadcast, Mr Logan told BBC Spotlight that Mr Murray had been his main contact in Belfast and had been involved in ordering hundreds of guns.

Mr Logan claimed the firearms were smuggled into Northern Ireland over a five-year period, including a period when the IRA was involved in weapons decommissioning talks.

The Irish American said he had been given immunity from prosecution by the US authorities in return for giving them information about the weapons he had collected.

On the day after the BBC programme was broadcast, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed it had reopened its investigation in the case.

In a statement, a PSNI spokeswoman said: "PIRA gun running from Florida is now subject to reinvestigation which will include an examination of existing evidence together with the examination of any potential new evidence that has come to light in the last few days."

Earlier on Wednesday, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) met senior police officers to discuss the revelations.

Convictions

DUP minister Arlene Foster called on police to reveal if they were aware of claims that a senior member of Sinn Féin was involved in buying and smuggling weapons from America.

Ms Foster said: "It doesn't really matter whether Sinn Féin dismiss the claims from last night's programme.

"What we want to know now is whether the police were made aware of the information that the individual (Mike Logan) from America gave last night and if they weren't aware, why were they not aware."

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) had also urged the PSNI to investigate the allegations made in the broadcast "as a matter of urgency".

The UUP's justice spokesperson, Tom Elliott, has written to the PSNI chief constable to express his concerns about the weapons claims.

In 1999, four people were arrested in Florida and subsequently convicted of gun-running.

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