24 November 2005

Untouchables - Getting away with murder...

Daily Ireland

‘Those who reorganised and rearmed the UDA, UVF and Ulster Resistance have never been on the run from any one. In fact many still hold senior positions in the NIO, British army, the PSNI and British government itself’ – An Fhírinne spokesperson Robert McClenaghan

Jarlath Kearney

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Victims of state violence and collusion in the North have attacked the British government for attempting to create an amnesty for state agents and officials.
Yesterday marked the second reading of the controversial Northern Ireland Offences Bill in the House of Commons. The legislation was ostensibly supposed to remedy the situation of individuals currently on-the-run in other jurisdictions regarding pre-1998 political offences that took place in the North.
However concern is mounting that the British government is trying to create an amnesty for state agents and officials who have not yet even been questioned – never mind charged – in relation to illegal activities such as collusion.
“Families of victims of British state collusion with unionist death squads have been deeply angered by the attempts of the British government to use the on-the-run legislation to provide an escape clause for their agents involved in the murder of our relatives and friends,” Robert McClenaghan of anti-collusion group, An Fhírinne, said yesterday.
“Those who reorganised and rearmed the UDA, UVF and Ulster Resistance have never been on-the-run from anyone. In fact, many still hold senior positions in the NIO, the British army, the PSNI and the British government itself.
“British agents involved in collusion may attempt to run away from their past. But they will not be able to hide from the truth forever. We, the relatives of those murdered, will continue to campaign until the truth is openly told for all to see,” Mr McClenaghan said.
Speaking as he met London mayor Ken Livingstone yesterday, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams insisted that the British government is attempting “to conceal the truth about its involvement in the killing of citizens”.
“The scheme that we negotiated was published by the two governments at Weston Park in 2003 and related only to ‘on-the-runs’. It did not include members of British state forces,” Mr Adams said.
“Indeed, one of the key factors in Sinn Féin rejecting the position produced by the two governments at Weston Park was the British government’s refusal to agree to an independent judicial inquiry as called for by the family of Pat Finucane.
“Sinn Féin’s position is absolutely clear. We are opposed to the inclusion of British state forces in the current legislation. Sinn Féin will continue to confront the British government on the denial of truth about collusion.
“Our party activists, including elected representatives, were a primary target in this policy of state murder. Only last week, I was again told that my details, compiled by British intelligence agencies, had been passed to loyalist death squads.
“This is an urgent and immediate issue for Sinn Féin and we will continue to support the victims of collusion and state violence. The British persist in denying their policy of collusion. They must acknowledge the truth and those who directed this policy, including senior British political figures, must be held to account,” Mr Adams said.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan attacked Gerry Adams, claiming the West Belfast MP “has no credibility”. Mr Durkan was speaking in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon.
“The fact is that the British government has admitted that it was negotiating these plans with Sinn Féin over the summer. I say again Sinn Féin do not negotiate for the Irish people. They do not negotiate for the Agreement or the common good. They negotiate for themselves,” he added.

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