The North’s First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson says the independent assessment will be able to question all agencies about paramilitary organisations.
Earlier this week, Villiers proposed the creation of an independent watchdog to monitor paramilitary groups and Ireland’s foreign minister said the one-off assessment announced on Friday did not preclude future monitoring arrangements being applied.
“Following the Chief Constable’s assessment of those involved in the murder of Kevin McGuigan the Party said that it would not be business as usual”, said Mr Robinson.
Ms Villiers said: “I am announcing today that the Government has commissioned a factual assessment from the United Kingdom security agencies and the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) on the structure, role and goal of paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland“.
The statement from Theresa Villiers released by the Northern Ireland Office runs as follows: “On Monday we plan to press ahead with intensive talks involving the five main Northern Ireland parties and the Irish Government on matters for which they are responsible”.
“I am not in the business of wrecking devolution.”
In a statement, McGuinness said: “Sinn Féin is committed to pursuing our goals through peaceful and democratic means and is entering these talks on the firm and sole basis of our electoral mandate”.
She is also establishing a fund to “tackle links between paramilitary organisations and organised crime” and pledged to work closely with the Government on cross-Border criminality.
“That is why we run Operation Torus, because it empowers local people to come forward with information about drugs in their area”. It will support agencies to enhance specialist capabilities such as forensic accounting to strengthen their capacity to seize criminal assets.
“And I want to see, and am working for, talks to take place with a view to a successful outcome”.
That assessment has shone the spotlight on Sinn Fein and exerted pressure on the republican party to explain why security chiefs assess that the supposedly defunct paramilitary organisation is still in existence.
“This assessment will be published by mid-October and will be available to inform the parties’ discussions and conclusions in the cross party talks”, she said.
“The PSNI will provide full co-operation and support to all the measures that have been outlined.”
“We will work with the other parties to tackle the issue of armed groups, which want to drag us back to the past including active unionist paramilitaries and armed republican dissidents, and organized criminals who are a blight on the community”. Minister Fitzgerald and Minister Flanagan have both reiterated the determination of the Irish Government to deal as effectively as possible with cross border crime and to build on the high levels of co-operation which already exist. Time is running out for the critical issues to be resolved and collapse of the Executive and Assembly averted.
DS McMullan said the PSNI would continue to “disrupt and arrest those involved in the sale and supply of drugs, bring those individuals before the courts and work with communities and partner agencies to reduce the threat of harmful and illegal activity”.
Given its wide-ranging remit and resources, it would be reasonable to assume it knows the extent of paramilitary involvement in organised crime in Northern Ireland.