We need to know if there were any further cases of collusion with IRA
Opinion: Remarks by Adams further underline the callousness of the republican movement towards its victims
It has been argued that the government headed by Jack Lynch assisted in the expansion of the Provisional IRA when it was in its infancy. There is now, for example, little doubt that Capt James Kelly, the Irish intelligence officer, was acting on the orders of the then Irish government in seeking to acquire and import guns into the Republic for PIRA use. We also now know that Capt Kelly and other senior members of the Irish government met with senior figures in the IRA as early as October 1969. We know that Charles Haughey met with Cathal Goulding, the IRA chief of staff. These documented facts point to a sometimes sympathetic environment for the IRA. They should be examined as part of any process agreed to deal with the legacy of our troubled past.
One of the reasons why Margaret Thatcher signed up to the Anglo Irish Agreement was to tighten security along the Border. Judge Smithwick has since confirmed that political expediency meant it was decided to dismiss the connection between the IRA and the Garda in the murders of these two senior RUC officers. Authorities on both sides of the Border may have had a vested interest in denying the collusion of Garda officers with the IRA. For the then UK government it would have meant conceding that the agreement had failed in its stated aim, while for the Dublin government it would have meant admitting collusion with a criminal terrorist organisation. The consequence of this expediency was to deny the Breen and Buchanan families the truth for a quarter of a century.
Truth and justice
Judge Smithwick concluded that political expediency should not come before the need to provide truth and justice to the victims of terrorism. This is a principle that all parties to the current Haass talks would do well to uphold.
I welcome the fact that senior Ministers in the Republic of Ireland, as well as the Garda Commissioner have been clear in accepting the findings of Judge Smithwick and expressed their abhorrence at the circumstances that led to the murder of these two RUC officers. As for the dismissive comments of Gerry Adams, they stand as further testimony to the hypocrisy and callousness of the republican movement towards its victims. I have no doubt that the vast majority of officers in the Garda Síochána and the people of the Republic will continue to shun those who supported or those who seek to make excuses for the actions of an illegal organisation that engaged in cold-blooded murder.
We must ensure that this dark chapter in our shared history is never repeated.
Jeffrey Donaldson is Democratic Unionist MP for Lagan Valley and party spokesman on Victims Issues