By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Sinn Fein does not have the right to enter government until the IRA is disbanded, according to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
While the decision by the IRA last week to start to decommission its weapons stockpiles broke the logjam in the peace process, Sinn Fein continued to have its own army.
“My position on this has always been clear. I have stated that when the IRA had finally folded up its tent and when they had finally decided to end as an organization, then that changed that position,” Ahern said.
“Constitutionally it can’t be dealt with any other way.
“They haven’t crossed that Rubicon. They know that very well. I think that will happen.”
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“Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinnness are on record on at least three or four occasions in the last few years saying they would continue to work to that day when we would all in this country, under our constitution, absolutely recognize that we have one police service and one army.
“We can’t have two. We certainly still have the structures of another one. Sinn Fein understand that and I know they will continue to work to deal with that. But it is not possible to do it right now.”
A general election is due within eight months and Sinn Fein is expected to increase its representation from its current single TD in the 166 seat Dail.
It is expected to pick up two additional seats, in Kerry and Dublin, and some political commentators believe the party has a realistic chance of getting another three.
Even with three seats, the party could have a pivotal role in power-broking a new coalition after the election — if the main parties are willing to share power with it.