Campaigners have called on Dublin, yet again, to “step up” and come clean about the Republic’s role in the Troubles, after an Irish historian published a ‘ground breaking’ book on the subject.
Yesterday’s News Letter detailed how Gearóid Ó Faoleán spent his Phd at the University of Limerick gathering evidence of active support for the Provisional IRA from within all southern political parties, members of the Gardai, Irish Defence Forces, civil service, judiciary and GAA.
He hopes his book, ‘A broad church’ from Merrion Press, will bring balance to current discussions which, he says, focus strongly on the role of the British state in the Troubles.
“It will shine a light in showing that the south, willingly or unwillingly, was an engine for the IRA; logistically in terms of arms coming in, training, the acquisition and production of explosives and in terms of financing – the south was all of that,” he said.
Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United says the volume will once again put pressure on the Irish government to act even handedly regarding legacy matters.
“Gearóid Ó Faoleán shows that the Republic of Ireland state apparatus did not merely turn a blind eye but much more than that it provided, in many situations, the fuel to drive the engine of the Provisional republican movement. As such it was complicit with aspects of The Provisional Movement’s campaign”.
The “overwhelming majority” of those within An Garda Siochonna and the Irish Defence Forces acted “with honour and integrity” he said, but without question there were “individual collaborators”.
“It is essential that any legacy process advanced is on the basis of the two States being prepared to step up and offer full disclosure and cooperation concerning the Past.”
In 2012 the Assembly passed a motion by DUP MP Gregory Campbell calling on the Irish government to apologise for what he said was its role in the genesis of the IRA.
He said: “This piece or work from Gearóid Ó Faoleán will shines a light into an area which some people in the Republic wish to ignore or file away in the bad memories folder. Its not spoken about. The Republic of Ireland has always been swift to call for inquiries in Northern Ireland about the Troubles but has been much more reluctant to throw open its books for scrutiny about acts of omission in the 70s, 80s and 90s in their own Country.”
The number of PIRA terrorists who took safe haven in the Republic of Ireland is undisputed. The border was a refuge for the PIRA.”
House of Commons research shows that the Republic refused to extradite 93 per cent of people wanted in the UK for IRA offences for 25 years from 1973-97.
Mr Campbell added that in the past five years the Kingsmills massacre inquest has encountered “delay after delay” in trying to access related files held by the Irish government.
“When the Taoiseach waved a newspaper clipping around at an EU Council meeting last year, I challenged him to stop exploiting victims of terrorism and show real sincerity about the past by being open about the RoI government’s failures,” he added.
Irish historian Ruth Dudley Edwards said she looked forward to reading the book. “But unlike the author, I’m not at all surprised by his discoveries,” she said. “Sadly, quite apart from the cheer-leaders of physical-force republicanism, a large section of nationalism has always been peopled by what are known as ‘sneaking regarders’ - people who are privately sympathetic with IRA terrorists.”
The News Letter invited Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tanaiste Simon Coveney to comment on Dr Ó Faoleán’s findings. Mr Coveney’s office said it would not be making any comment while Mr Varadkar’s office said it had passed the inquiry to the Irish Department of Justice to deal with. Both men have repeatedly made calls on the UK government regarding transparency on the Ballymurphy massacre and murder of Pat Finucane.
Sinn Fein was also invited to comment.