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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 April 2006, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
IRA slams 'ex-republican crooks'
IRA gunman
The IRA has distanced itself from former members engaged in crime
The Irish Republican Army has denounced former members who have "embraced criminal activity" and apologised for killing a man in a 1974 bomb attack.

In the paramilitary group's traditional Easter statement it said it had "no responsibility for the tiny number of former republicans" involved in crime.

It said those engaged in crime were doing so "for self gain".

In a separate statement the IRA said it killed Catholic man Eugene McQuaid in an attack meant for British soldiers.

Mr McQuaid, 35, a Catholic, died in an explosion near Killeen in County Armagh on 5 October, 1974.

The IRA apologised to his family and said an "internal investigation" concluded Mr McQuaid was killed when an IRA roadside bomb "detonated prematurely" as he passed it on his motorcycle.

The Irish government in particular has a duty to see beyond the current phase of the process
IRA statement

"Eugene McQuaid was not a member of the IRA. He was not involved in the IRA operation," the IRA said.

The statement was welcomed by Mr McQuaid's son-in-law Ciaran Tumilty who said the family had wanted to dispel any suggestion he had any paramilitary connections.

"Those making the false allegations against Eugene never had any evidence to support their claims because none existed," he said.

"He was never a member of a paramilitary organisation. He was a good family man."

'Current phase'

In the Easter statement the IRA said it repudiated "criminal activity" and "denounce those involved."

It also called on the British and Irish governments to push on with implementing the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The statement said there was frustration among republican circles, but that the deal made it "possible to achieve the republican goal of a united Ireland through the alternative route of purely peaceful and democratic means".

"The Irish government in particular has a duty to see beyond the current phase of the process," it said.

"Its responsibility is to promote an end to partition and to create the conditions for the unity and independence of Ireland."

The theft of more than 26m from the Northern Bank headquarters in Belfast in December 2004 was blamed on the IRA.

The organisation has been linked to bank robbery, protection rackets and dealing in smuggled cigarettes and alcohol as means of raising cash.


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