07 December 2005

Government calls for collusion inquiry

::: u.tv :::

The Irish Government today faced calls from a unionist MEP for an inquiry into collusion between members of its police force and the IRA during the Troubles.

WEDNESDAY 07/12/2005 14:58:08
By:Press Association

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson issued the challenge as campaigners against British security force collusion with loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland lobbied parties in the European Parliament to investigate controversial murders in the province.

Mr Nicholson said: "It is only right and proper that the Irish Government conducts a public inquiry into allegations of suspected collusion between members of the garda Siochana and the Irish Republican Army in the planning and execution of acts of terrorism.

"They have not been dealt with and I think they warrant a full and impartial investigation."

The Irish Government has committed itself to an inquiry into the double killing of Royal Ulster Constabulary officers Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan in 1989 after they returned north of the border from a meeting with Gardai.

The inquiry was recommended by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, who also secured separate inquiries in Northern Ireland into the murders of solicitors Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, Catholic father-of-two Robert Hamill and loyalist prisoner Billy Wright.

However Mr Nicholson pressed for a wider inquiry, arguing over the years there had been a number of serious allegations about collusion between members of the Garda and the Provisional IRA.

"Evidence of such collusion has emerged from books by respected journalists, Northern Ireland authors and individuals living in areas in which incidents such as the murder of RUC officers and the attempted murder of RUC, Royal Irish Regiment and Ulster Defence Regiment officers have occurred," the Ulster Unionist MEP said.

"There has also been the murder and attempted murder of officials of the Northern Ireland judicial system and others.

"While I recognise the attempts made by Garda officers at a local level to help and assist the RUC and the security forces with murder inquiries and other investigations, allegations of collusion will not go away until they are properly dealt with.

"The Northern Ireland Assembly debated this in a motion laid down by UUP Assembly member Danny Kennedy in 2001 which called for the Secretary of State to make representations to the Irish Government to conduct an inquiry into allegations of collusion.

"To date nothing has been done on this issue."

Mr Nicholson said unless and until there was an inquiry the wounds suffered by people, particularly unionists, in border areas who had experienced a murder campaign would not heal.

"They will never be able to have a proper relationship with the Irish Republic or trust the Irish Republic and its authorities if this issue is not resolved," he warned.

The Ulster Unionist MEP was commenting as groups including Relatives for Justice, the Campaign Against Plastic Bullets and An Fhirinne briefed MEPs and several human rights and social justice groups on collusion between members of the British Army and police with loyalist paramilitary gangs in Northern Ireland.

The group are pressing MEPs from European Parliament groups to send a cross-party delegation to Northern Ireland on a fact-finding visit about British collusion.

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