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Collusion exposed by Oireachtas Committee


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The Irish Examiner, 30 November 2006:


Government backs report on collusion in North

By Harry McGee, Political Editor

The Government last night backed a report which found successive British governments knew of widespread collusion between its security forces and loyalists.

An Oireachtas subcommittee said a series of atrocities by loyalist paramilitaries in the mid-1970s were acts of international terrorism.

The committee’s conclusions in relation to successive British governments are its gravest. It refers to a meeting in 1975 attended by Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher, later prime minister.

She was told the RUC were not to be trusted, elements in the police were close to the UVF, and the reserve force, the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) was heavily infiltrated by extremists who could not be relied upon in a crisis.

The committee also found that because of endemic collusion and the level of awareness, the British Government could no longer “legitimately refuse to cooperate with investigations”.

The Taoiseach described the findings as disturbing, deeply troubling and “a matter of the most serious concern”. He said it was “absolutely essential” that the British Government now co-operate with all the investigations.

Repeated efforts by Mr Ahern to win that co-operation, including a number of personal requests to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, have been rebuffed.

Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said he had contacted Northern Secretary Peter Hain last night to convey the Government’s deep misgivings.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the Taoiseach should demand of Mr Blair that he give the necessary co-operation, given the report’s disturbing findings.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte described the report as “extremely shocking” and condemned the “continuing refusal” of the British Government to co-operate.

The subcommittee, chaired by Fianna Fáil TD Sean Ardagh, was reporting on its hearings into nine attacks on both sides of the Border in which 18 people died. The hearings followed an earlier investigation into the atrocities — and attendant allegations of collusion — by former Supreme Court judge Henry Barron.

The incidents included the bombing of Kay’s Tavern in Dundalk; the murder of three members of the Reavey family in Markethill, Co Armagh; the murder of three members of the O’Dowd family in Gilford, Co Down; and the gunning down of three members of the Miami Showband by extremists, who were also members of the UDR.

The report, the fourth by the committee, went much farther than previous reports in the inferences it draws. It found that collusion between security forces and loyalist terrorists was behind many of the nine attacks. The collusion formed part of a wider picture that went to the top of the British establishment. The subcommittee also criticised the Irish authorities.

“We believe there is an abundance of information to suggest that there was reasonable if not significant, knowledge on this side of the border that British security personnel were working with, and as, loyalist paramilitaries. The fact that little or nothing was done to address this is, to put it mildly, alarming,” it says.

One member of the committee, Kathleen Lynch (Lab) said the garda inquiries were shabby exercises. Another, Senator Jim Walsh, said collusion in the North went “much further than a few bad apples”.

“We owe it to the integrity of our State that we do not allow an infringement of our sovereignty to go unchallenged,” he said.

The committee recommended a full Oireachtas debate ahead of putting pressure on the British authorities to cooperate with a full inquiry. Mr Ardagh said he favoured an inquiry based on those by Canadian judge Peter Cory in the North. But Independent TD Finian McGrath called for a full public inquiry.

Mr McGrath’s call was supported by surviving relatives of the victims. Solicitor James McGuill said he was disappointed the committee had not demanded a serious form of enquiry.

Greg O’Neill, the solicitor for Victims for the Forgotten, also reminded the subcommittee there remained serious unanswered questions about why garda inquiries had stopped.

Alan Brecknell, whose father Trevor was shot dead by loyalists, said his family had spent years fighting for the truth to be heard.

“It is now important that the community at large hears the truth and above all listens to the truth,” he said.

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Produced in association with the Ludlow Family.

Last edited: 02 December 2006 10:38:24

 Visit the Ludlow family's websiteVisit Justice for the Forgotten  Statement by John Oliver Weir

Download the Barron Inquiry Report into the 17 May 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, (pdf file)

Barron Report: on the Dublin Bombings of 1972 and 1973, can also be downloaded in pdf form

Download the Barron Report into the murder of Seamus Ludlow from the Oireachtas website (pdf file)

Copyright © 2006 the Rooney, Watters and Ludlow families. 

All rights reserved. Revised: December 02, 2006 .