Bertie Ahern renewed his call on the British Government to co-operate with inquiries into collusion during a Dáil debate on the issue yesterday:
The willingness of the British authorities to co-operate with the various inquiries has been tested and in many cases found wanting. We tried to address these issues by establishing inquiries in certain important and representative cases in discussions with the British Government at Weston Park in July 2001. For our part, we have abided by the commitment to establish the inquiry into the murders of Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan, which is now proceeding under Judge Smithwick. While inquiries are under way in the cases of Robert Hamill, Rosemary Nelson and Billy Wright, the inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane has not been established by the British Government. The House and the Government have made clear our view that a proper independent inquiry must be established as recommended by Judge Cory. I again repeat that call today. While I regret that all of our efforts to date have not been fully successful for the victims, that does not mean we will give up trying to get those commitments honoured. I know we have the support of the entire House in that regard.
In more recent years, the valuable work of the Police Ombudsman of
Northern Ireland has uncovered further clear evidence of collusion. For
example, the detailed report into the killing of Raymond McCord was
truly shocking, even for those who had long suspected the level of
collusion. It also proved that the issue of collusion matters to all of
us and to all communities in Northern Ireland. It is not a purely
Nationalist concern, as has been eloquently demonstrated by Raymond’s
father’s campaign for justice for his son. He has met my officials and
me a number of times.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny supported the call:
I do not know whether the Taoiseach has had any contact with the
current prime minister, Gordon Brown, whether Mr. Brown has had any
contact with the Taoiseach or whether officials from both governments
have been in touch with each other. This is a matter which we must
continue to attempt to sort out.
In his final
report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974, Mr. Justice Barron
said that the notion that members of the security forces in Northern
Ireland could have been involved in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings
was “neither fanciful nor absurd”. In his report into the Dublin
bombings of 1972 and 1973, Mr. Justice Barron says that it is quite
possible that the bombs were planted to influence the debate on that
Bill in this House. He also said there were some elements of the
attacks that were not characteristic of loyalist subversive groups at
that time such as the giving of a warning, the use of hired vehicles,
the co-ordinated nature of the blasts and the apparent use of a car
stolen four months previously. He went on to say that “these features
may be consistent with involvement by the British Army or Intelligence
Services in the bombings”.
In respect of the
bombing of Kay’s Tavern, the sub-committee said that in some of the
incidents in question, collusion was almost beyond question. Justice
for the Forgotten, quite rightly, have been very concerned and vocal
about these reports and the necessity to bring closure.
Taoiseach is aware that we have all supported the Good Friday agreement
and the peace process and attempted in whatever way we can, in or
outside Government, to make an impact for the greater good of our
communities and people. I remind the British government that strand
three of the agreement concerns the development of the east-west
relationship between Great Britain and Ireland. This provides an
opportunity and a platform for co-operation to again resurrect the
requirement that the documentary evidence and written evidence
available to the British government be made available so that some
closure can be achieved.
Labour’s Joe Costello suggested the Irish Government could do more to raise the issue:
The initial important step that could so easily have been taken,
namely, the formal adoption of the four reports and their findings by
the Dáil and Seanad, never took place nor were the reports ever
forwarded to the British House of Commons.
In its fourth and final report in 2007, the sub-committee made its most damning finding. It stated:
sub-committee is left in no doubt that collusion between the British
security forces and terrorists was behind many if not all of the
atrocities that are considered in this report. We are horrified that
persons who were employed by the British Administration to preserve
peace and to protect people were engaged in the creation of violence
and the butchering of innocent victims. The sub-committee is of the
view that given that we are dealing with acts of international
terrorism that were colluded in by the British security forces, the
British Government cannot legitimately refuse to co-operate with
investigations and attempts to get to the truth.
trenchant findings on collusion were made in the light of the
accumulation of evidence over the four Barron reports and hearings
conducted by the sub-committee.
sub-committee concluded that “the seriousness of this, i.e., collusion,
warrants direction from the Oireachtas and we, therefore, recommend
that there should be a full debate in both the Dáil and Seanad on the
issue of collusion since it is necessary for there to be greater
political impetus to highlight the fact that it occurred and the facts
of its scale and to identify measures to bring closure to the victims”.
The sub-committee proposed the Oireachtas give direction on the way
forward to achieve the necessary action concerning collusion.
the Taoiseach responded positively in subsequent remarks, I propose
four courses of action. First, the interim and final reports of the
sub-committee of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality,
Defence and Women’s Rights on the report of the independent commission
of inquiry into the Dublin-Monaghan Bombing are received, endorsed and
approved by the Dáil and Seanad.
Ceann Comhairle is called upon to formally inform the Speaker of the
House of Commons of the UK of the passage of the resolution and to send
copies of the relevant reports and other documents, with a request that
the matter be considered by the members of that House.
the Taoiseach is called upon to renew his efforts to secure the
agreement of the British Government to the courses of action
recommended by the sub-committee, to report to the Dáil on a regular
basis. If he has no progress of substance to report by the end of this
year, he should report on the steps taken for the initiation of
proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
the Oireachtas requests the Ceann Comhairle to call upon the British
Government, as an initial step and as a sign of good faith in dealing
with the legacy of the conflict, to provide access to all the original
documents relating to the atrocities that occurred in this
jurisdiction, in particular the Dublin-Monaghan Bombing of 1974 which
killed 32 Irish citizens, a French and an Italian citizen.
Only when these avenues are explored can the victims and families obtain justice and closure on these terrible events.