Go raibh maith agat a LeasCheann Comhairle. For more than 30 years the British Government have been at the centre of allegations of collusion in what has been variously described as state killings, political murders, shoot to kill and sectarian assassinations.
Regardless of the terminology, the motion seeks to put the allegations to rest. It seeks to establish the truth about Britain’s dirty war in Ireland; that is what has been going on in the past thirty years. Members on the Benches opposite would know all about that; they were involved heavily in it.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Before she really got into her speech, the Member started to make wild allegations against other Members that are untrue and have no foundation whatsoever. Can you use your powers to get her to rein in her wild allegations? As a supporter of IRA/Sinn Féin, she is prepared to turn a blind eye to the murders that they have carried out but continues to make wild, unsubstantiated and untrue allegations against other Members, some of whom have borne the brunt of IRA attacks. I appeal to you to take action.
That is not a point of order. I shall respond to the original point of order. No specific allegation was made about any Member of the House, but I would remind all participants in the debate to exercise caution and respect the dignity of the House at all times.
Britain’s dirty war involved people in the highest echelons of Government, the British Army, the intelligence services and the RUC — in effect, the state. The guilt or innocence of that state in the planning and execution of the murder of 400 Nationalists — and some members of the Protestant and Unionist community, if that community would only acknowledge it — must be established. To establish the truth of the allegations, the Government should grasp the nettle and initiate the inquiry that the motion calls for.
There have been inquiries before. There was Stalker, whose inquiry was instructed by the RUC; there was the Sampson report, which was watered down and then suppressed by Paddy Mayhew for reasons of national security. Then there was Stevens. All those reports were about allegations of state murder.
The allegations of collusion and state involvement go back as far as the 1970s, when British Army intelligence, under the name "Military Reaction Force", recruited gangs — the UDA — to assassinate Republicans. The UDA gangs’ tactics were predicated on the idea that any Catholic would do. They benefited from a policy of disinformation euphemistically named ‘Clockwork Orange’, in which military intelligence provided them with the information that they needed to assassinate Catholics and Nationalists.
There is a widespread belief that those involved in the Miami Showband killings, the killings at Silver Bridge in south Armagh, the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974 and many more atrocities were working directly for RUC Special Branch and British military intelligence. It has taken the Dublin Government 26 years to set up an inquiry into the circumstances of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings; perhaps, the British should take a leaf out of the Dublin Government’s book.
I believe that there are those in the British Government who know who murdered Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson and continue to cover the activities of Loyalist death squads. The British Government have consistently refused to answer questions on the role of the intelligence services and the activities of the death squads. What have they got to hide?
Questions have been put to them over the years by eminently renowned organisations such as Amnesty International — whose report criticising the British Government is widely available — the Helsinki Watch, United Nations rapporteurs, the United States Government’s Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), Relatives for Justice and the Pat Finucane Centre. All these creditable organisations are convinced that there is direct or indirect involvement of the British Government — through the intelligence services — with Loyalist death squads in the murder of Nationalists.
There is also mounting evidence that members of the British Government have, over the years, not only protected death squad operators but collaborated with high-ranking officials in the Northern Ireland Office, with the Chief Constable and with prominent Unionist politicians in the extensive cover-up of such activities. The deadly hand of collusion reaches far into the establishment. The assassins are protected by cosmetic investigations, non-prosecutions and curbing of inquests while the families and friends of those murdered have been subjected to harassment and intimidation by the RUC and the British Army. The victims of the death squads, even in death, are treated as less than equal.
The public face of the death squads, Brian Nelson, and his involvement with the British Force Research Unit — or "FRU", as it has become known — is well recorded by eminent journalists at the ‘Daily Telegraph’ and has been the subject of many documentaries. Nelson was involved in the South African arms shipment in 1988, which netted a huge haul of weapons including rifles, grenades and rocket launchers. The weapons were divided between the UDA, the UVF and Ulster Resistance — the organisation set up by the DUP.
In the six years prior to the arrival of the weapons, Loyalist paramilitaries murdered 71 Nationalists. In the six years following that delivery — from January 1988 until September 1994 — Loyalists murdered 229 Catholics, most of whom were innocent. Those killings were carried out in a brutal and sectarian manner.
Nelson was arrested by the Stevens inquiry — another cosmetic exercise by the British Government to quieten public outrage. Stevens "mark 1" was a spectacular failure, leaving Amnesty International to conclude in 1990 that
"it is obvious from all the evidence available that collusion remains a fact of life and the [British] Government is not prepared to confront it."
Stevens "mark II", which is inquiring into the assassination of Rosemary Nelson for doing her job as a lawyer and defending her clients, does not promise to deliver results either. It is clear that those who subverted Stalker and Sampson and all the other inquiries set up by the British Government to prevent the truth from emerging have a vested interest in subverting Stevens. The role of the death squads, the agencies behind them and the vested interests of the "securicrats" behind them must be made known.
According to the ‘Irish News’ today, 500 Republicans have been informed by the RUC that their lives are under threat after their personal details were found in the hands of Loyalists.
These documents, along with a quantity of firearms and ammunition, were recovered in searches in Loyalist areas. The documents could have come only from the same source that Nelson and the UDA got their documents from — namely, the intelligence services. It does not matter what name they use — whether it be the Force Research Unit (FRU) or the pseudo-gangs — these intelligence services are providing for and colluding with Loyalist paramilitaries in the assassinations of innocent people. There is further evidence of collusion and further evidence that Britain’s dirty war in Ireland continues unabated. Collusion is not abstract; it is real. It has filled the graveyards with our young and our old, with our mothers and our children. The British Government must speak the truth. They must tell us what the relationship is between the British Government and the FRU — [Interruption]
I beg to move the following amendment: Delete all after "Assembly" and add
"rejects allegations of collusion between the RUC Special Branch, British Military Intelligence and Loyalist Paramilitaries and congratulates the security forces, who have striven to uphold law and order in Northern Ireland in the face of a sectarian campaign of murder directed by IRA/Sinn Féin in collusion with others."
I put down the amendment to ensure that the wild imaginations of Sinn Féin — in their attempts to blacken the security forces in Northern Ireland — do not go unanswered. Furthermore, I want to ensure that it is put on public record that if a party in Northern Ireland can be rightfully accused of collusion in sectarian murders, it is the party opposite.
By tabling the motion, Sinn Féin has to a certain extent, shot itself in the foot — although some people may prefer it politically shot itself in other ways.
At the beginning of the debate, Sinn Féin tried to have the amendment ruled out of order — out of embarrassment obviously, as it knew what would come after Mary Nelis’s speech. Sinn Féin knew that putting the motion down was a mistake, because it would give both a platform and an opportunity to put the spotlight on the real guilty parties in Northern Ireland — those who really have been involved in colluding in murder across the Province, those who, unfortunately, because of present political circumstances, have now been elevated to a situation in which they are allowed to sit in the Assembly.
Anybody who listens to the imaginative outpourings of Mary Nelis — who makes Walter Mitty sound rather dull — can only be astounded at her degree of ingenuity. In her usual bitter and twisted way, she spits out the words like machine-gun bullets. She uses phrases like "the British Government’s collusion in sectarian murder" and "the British Government’s dirty war in Ireland". Unfortunately, that is an almost weekly diet of poison that is put into the system in Northern Ireland by the Member opposite and her party.
It is little wonder that in Nationalist areas in Northern Ireland the job of policing is made more difficult when that kind of poison is injected into our society. That poison is based on nothing other than the vivid imagination of members of IRA/Sinn Féin, backed up by the pseudo-legal groups that they gather around them. Then they talk about credible witnesses.
I want to deal today with the question of collusion in sectarian murder. I want to ensure that the finger of accusation is properly pointed at those who sit in the Assembly and who have been guilty of a bitter sectarian campaign over the last 30 years. I am not going to rely on my own views, or even on the views of Unionist commentators, but on the admissions of their fellow travellers and on the admissions of some people who are sitting in the House today. Their own people have pointed the finger of accusation at the sectarian nature of the organisation that IRA/ Sinn Féin so proudly represent. Indeed, Members of the House have served prison sentences for their activities in that organisation.
We often hear that the campaign of murder waged by the IRA over the last 30 years is not directed at their Protestant neighbours. We get the nauseating outpourings from members of Sinn Féin. I remember one occasion when the leader of Sinn Féin looked across to this side of the House and said "I want to be your friend." That is the way in which they try to hide their sordid sectarian past. Yet some of their own activists, sickened by the way that their organisation behaved, have pulled the lid off the kind of picture of themselves that they like to present — that they were fighting a war against British imperialism, but they never really meant to hurt Protestants. They were never really engaging in a campaign against other people who were their neighbours on this island. Let me quote from one who served on the Army Council of the IRA, and who was for a long time active along the Tyrone border. He was engaged in acts of terrorism, including murder, and he talks about his experience with those who carried out those acts. He said
"Inevitably the conversations I had with local IRA men and sympathisers ‘the Prods’ or ‘the Orangies’ centred around and it was becoming clear to me that Provisional IRA were in reality representatives of the Catholic ‘defender’ tradition. Irish Nationalism and Irish Catholicism was deep and complex. There was a deep and ugly hatred, centuries old, behind it all. The local IRA men would rather shoot a Protestant neighbour who was in the UDR or the police reserve."
He went on to say that when he went to the camp to be trained as a terrorist he was driven to a hotel called Carrigart
"Where we were awaited by Pat Doherty".
He nicknamed him "Smiler". We have seen the smiling face of Pat Doherty on many occasions in the House.
"The darker side of the character can be judged from his other nickname, ‘Papa Doc’, after Papa Doc Duvallier, the infamous Haitian dictator".
What was his role in that training camp? According to Sean O’Callaghan, at that stage he was the quartermaster for the IRA in Donegal where he was responsible for training camps and bomb factories. What were the bombs used for? Were they used for fireworks displays or for making bangs to scare people? These bombs were planted around towns, houses and roads in Northern Ireland to do what? To murder Protestants.
Yet we have the audacity of IRA/Sinn Féin today pointing the finger of accusation at the British Government, when in reality their own "smiling" members were involved in a campaign that led to hundreds of Protestants being killed along the border. That is not according to the view of Sammy Wilson, or even the RUC, but one of their own colleagues. We will always hear the argument that those who were killed, even if they were Protestants, were only killed because they were policemen or UDR men.
An interesting book on the involvement of the IRA in south Armagh is called "Bandit Country: The IRA and South Armagh" by Toby Harnden. I will refer to some of the people who sit in the House and who were involved with people in south Armagh. Unfortunately one of them has fled — gone on the run from the debate — and I would like to have quoted a few words to him.
In that book, commentary is made on the Tullyvallen and Kingsmills massacres, which were an embarrassment to those who claimed that their motives were not sectarian. They claimed that the massacres were the action of a splinter group — the Catholic Reaction Force. How often have we heard that since 1998? Let us look at the evidence. Eleven people were killed at Kingsmills and five at Tullyvallen. An IRA man from Cullyhanna was caught for the Tullyvallen massacre and he admitted his involvement. It was not the South Armagh Republican Action Force, but the Provisional IRA. One of their own people was caught and convicted.
The forensic analysis of the ballistics showed that several of the weapons used at Kingsmills had also been used at Tullyvallen, in a series of previous IRA operations, and in IRA operations for two decades afterwards. They may try to say that it was the work of a splinter group and nothing to with them because they do not involve themselves and collude in sectarian campaigns. However, the act was authorised by Séamus Twomey and was carried out by Provisional IRA activists.
Here is an odd thing. One would think that those in IRA/Sinn Féin would love to distance themselves from that incident. What do we find when there was some dissatisfaction among the very people in Cullyhanna who were unhappy about IRA/Sinn Féin’s involvement in the so-called peace process?
None other than Mr Molloy went down to reassure them. What was his message to them? Do not forget that these are people who had been involved in a sordid, murdering sectarian campaign in south Armagh. What was his assurance to them?
"This phase of negotiations may fall apart, it may not succeed. And whenever that does happen —"
Did they distance themselves from all the acts in Kingsmills, Tullyvallen and Mountain Lodge? No.
"And whenever that does happen, then we simply go back to what we know best."
There is not even embarrassment about what they did in their sordid campaign. The collusion goes beyond the collusion between members of the party opposite and those who carried out these sordid acts. We find that they also had the help of the gardaí in the Irish Republic. The most notorious example of that was the murder of Ch Supt Breen. Members of the gardaí admitted that they were ashamed because he had been set up by one of their own people in Dundalk.
Lest we think that only individual members of the authorities in the Irish Republic were involved in that, I will show that the collusion went even deeper.
I am glad to see Mr John Kelly —
I am finishing. I am glad to see Mr Kelly here. He could not return to Northern Ireland for 15 years. Why? He could not return because he was involved in importing arms. According to ‘Magill’ magazine, Mr Kelly freely acknowledged his involvement in the attempted gunrunning. His defence was that he believed that the operation had been officially sanctioned. Again we find that there was collusion in the killing of Protestants not just at the lower reaches of the gardaí but at the highest echelons of the Irish Government. The importing of arms was not so that people could walk about Northern Ireland being macho men. Those guns were brought into Northern Ireland to carry out the sectarian killings to which I referred.
Madam Deputy Speaker, I am going to finish now. It is little wonder that Alex Maskey tried to have the amendment stopped today, because IRA/Sinn Féin does not like the spotlight of scrutiny to be placed upon the collusion between terrorists, gardaí and the Irish Government in a campaign that led to thousands of Protestants being killed in Northern Ireland. The police force, over those 30 years, has done a sterling job in seeking to protect the community. It is a scandal that we now have people elevated to the House — elevated to the Government — who can spew out that kind of vile propaganda.
Given the number of Members who have indicated that they wish to speak in the debate, which has been allocated two hours, I advise Members to restrict their contributions to five minutes.
It is fair to say, having listened to Mrs Nelis — and not for the first time — that Sinn Féin continues to be a keen practitioner of the art of black propaganda. As the old proverb goes, "Truth is the first casualty in war." That has certainly been clear over the past 25 years as we have listened to Sinn Féin excusing the actions of the Republican organisation, the Provisional IRA.
This is a mischievous motion. It is deliberately misleading propaganda. The evidence being given is based on hearsay and is made up of a series of allegations masquerading as fact. I totally reject Mrs Nelis’s contention. I have heard nothing from Mrs Nelis to alter my opinion that we are dealing with a series of inventions from an organisation that has a shameful responsibility for the deaths of over 2,000 people in the past 25 years.
Two thirds of those who have died over the past 25 years were killed at the hands of the Provisional movement; and among those were some 500 Catholics. Over the past 25 years, more Catholics died at the hands of the IRA than at the hands of any other organisation. Although the motion appears to have been moved out of concern for the Catholic community, innocent Catholics also died at the hands of Republicans. The so-called protectors of the Catholic community have been among its greatest tormentors.
The motion alleges collusion. I will not pretend that I can answer for every individual in the security forces over the past 25 years. I know, for example, that there was collusion between the IRA and the gardaí in the murder of two senior RUC officers, Breen and Buchanan, as they returned back across the border from Dundalk. I also know that collusion between the IRA and a prison officer resulted in the murder of a prison governor.
The suggestion that, over the past 30 years, there was collusion on a stronger scale than that, or that there was official collusion, is simply nonsense, demonstrable nonsense. I completely reject that suggestion. If that is the case, how is it, for example, that the number of Loyalists convicted of serious crimes, including murder, far outstripped the number of Republicans who faced the judicial process. The number of Loyalists who have gone to prison as a result of that process was many times greater than the number of Republicans who paid the price in the courts.
If official collusion had taken place, how does one explain these facts? If there was collusion, why were Loyalists terrorists made accountable at all? If there was collusion, why, when they were made accountable, did Loyalists not spill the beans in response to an arrest that they would have seen as a double-cross? It is clear that there were no such incidences of collusion, in spite of the allegations.
These are easy allegations to make, but if the state organisations had decided to practise collusion or to take direct action, they had the skills and capacity simply to eradicate all terrorists. Republicans fail to appreciate that individuals in organisations, such as the RUC, are personally bound by the rule of law. The rule of law is paramount to them, and Republicans seem to fail to appreciate that there are people in this society who will not step over that line. Unlike the IRA and such organisations in many other countries, individuals in state organisations — for example, the RUC — are bound by law. If it had been otherwise, many Members of the House, who have been at the top of the IRA at various times, would not have survived.
Mrs Nelis stated that the RUC has today issued 500 warnings to people who are on a Loyalist death list — [Interruption].
I will finish in two seconds. This is an important point.
The Member suggests that that information came from a usual source and that it is evidence of collusion.
That list of people was downloaded from a Republican prisoners organisation by the Loyalist organisation concerned. I have seen the list. The Republican prisoner’s organisation listed their prisoners’ names, dates of birth, towns of origin and dates of release and asked Americans to give them support. Now, that is an example of the fallacy and fictious nature of the so-called evidence of collusion.
Listening to some of these comments, I am reminded of these words from the gospel:
"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"
We should bear that in mind when debating the motion and the amendment today.
The motion and the amendment are symptomatic of the selective view of our recent history that prevails in society and indeed in the Assembly. Both motion and amendment are selective in nature and partisan, and both are concerned with shaping one version of our history. Our history is in fact complex, and no one side in our conflict is without blame. Both traditions share the blame for the conflict that has caused so much death and injury in such a small part of western Europe. Of course, there are good grounds for suspecting that there was collusion between the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries in a number of incidents. The murder of solicitor Pat Finucane is one example, and we as a party have striven hard to try to find a public forum for an inquiry into the circumstances of his murder. The public good would be served by a public inquiry to establish the truth, to establish whether there was collusion, and that would be a service to all.
The motion is not concerned with the truth, but with establishing a version of the truth. The truth is that 3,600 people lost their lives in the troubles. The truth is that 1,065 Protestants and 1,548 Catholics died, and 1,000 of unknown religious affiliation died as well. Republican paramilitaries were responsible for 2,000 of those deaths. Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible for about 1,000 deaths. The British Army was responsible for 318 deaths, and the RUC for 53 deaths. Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible for the deaths of 735 Catholics. The British Army was responsible for the death of 266 Catholics. The RUC was responsible for the deaths of 43 Catholics, and Republican paramilitaries were responsible for the deaths of 381 Catholics. Tell me: who is to blame? Is it the RUC? Is it the UDA? Is it the IRA? Who is to blame?
What is required is that we abandon our subjective versions of our common history and attempt to create a wider understanding of what befell our long suffering community. We must learn the lessons of our bloody history. We must learn the lesson that violence cannot achieve anything positive and that violence must be firmly placed in the past by both traditions, not just by one. Both traditions in our society must share the blame.
We should examine our history, both individually as citizens and legislators and collectively as a society. Perhaps in the future when our politics have matured we can find some way of establishing the objective truth of our history and use that to heal the divisions and to bind the wounds in our society rather than use history to create more divisions and more wounds.
I support the DUP amendment and reject the allegation of collusion made by IRA/Sinn Féin. Instead, I wish to throw the focus back on IRA/Sinn Féin and its campaign of sectarian hatred that has resulted in the death of over 3,000 people in the Province. Mr Maginness gave a breakdown of who killed whom. The fact of the matter is that the IRA campaign led to the killing of more than 3,000 people. Lay the blame where it should lie: with the perpetrators of a murder campaign that has resulted in heartache and sorrow for so many families.
One must also record, as other Members have, that the IRA was responsible for the murder of some of its co-religionists. Indeed, it was responsible for the murder of most of them. That speaks volumes, given today’s motion. Moreover, IRA/Sinn Féin has expelled people from the Province. The families asked if they could return, and when they come back, IRA/Sinn Féin became involved in their demise. As a result of standing up to the godfathers they were murdered. Roman Catholics who have served in the security forces have also been murdered. The campaign that the IRA has been involved in has been very direct.
We must salute the sacrifice made by the RUC, the most maligned police force in Europe. It was thrust into the forefront of a terrorist campaign orchestrated by the IRA who murdered its officers, both male and female, of both religions. The RUC’s Special Branch played an important and significant role against terrorism from both sides in the Province. That IRA/Sinn Féin is so intent on its removal speaks volumes about the success that it had against IRA terrorism.
A story in ‘The Observer’ at the weekend referred to MI5’s taking over the special role that Special Branch once had. If that is the case we would welcome it, so long as the Government do not interfere in the strategy or overall policy pursued by MI5.
Can we also recognise the excellent work that those in the UDR and the RIR have done as well, whether in a part-time or full-time role? The British Army — our army — has been involved in policing the Province. Little or no evidence has been given today to show that any collusion occurred. Many inside and outside the Chamber who have served in the British Army were proud to wear that uniform, and they feel especially aggrieved that such an allegation should be made.
Other investigations into collusion have taken place and have never at any stage been able to prove the allegations. They have been very costly. We should also deny the slur and the innuendo that have been made and fermented by IRA/Sinn Féin. We must consider the sectarian campaign that IRA/Sinn Féin carried out along the border. It targeted the eldest sons of Protestant families, shot the fathers, burned the farms, bombed the houses and intimidated them to leave. That was a direct sectarian campaign, and many of us who lost loved ones know all about it.
Yes, the IRA has colluded with others to carry out the campaign and has specifically targeted Protestants and their families. Yet, as I mentioned earlier, the IRA has killed so many of its fellow religionists. The motion that Danny Kennedy moved a short time ago related to the collusion between the gardaí and some Republicans. We should commit that to our memory because it is important. It has been well documented, and we are still demanding and waiting for the investigation, which will show that there was collusion at the highest level.
IRA/Sinn Féin has been involved in a most horrific campaign of murder. It has been blatantly sectarian, as the facts and figures, all the evidence, all the history and all the heartache and pain of all those families testify.
The security forces — the RUC, Special Branch, British military intelligence — deserve our sincere gratitude. They have been a bulwark between law-abiding citizens and the anarchy that Sinn Féin/IRA thrives on and relishes. The security forces deserve our thanks, and we reject totally any spurious allegations of collusion that have not been, and cannot be, proven. There is no substance whatsoever to the motion put forward by Sinn Féin today.
I urge Members to support the DUP amendment.
A LeasCheann Comhairle, two issues face us today. I remind the Assembly that a few weeks ago we debated a motion that was proposed by the Ulster Unionist Party, which called for an inquiry into alleged collusion between the Garda Síochána and the IRA. The Assembly decided to support that motion. Unless Members are openly approaching this issue from the perspective of partisan and sectarian logic, the Assembly must support the motion proposed by my Colleague Mrs Nelis for the sake of consistency alone.
There is a second issue. The amendment cannot be supported simply on the basis of the volume of evidence, some of it emanating from the British Government and British Government operatives, that there was collusion, that it was institutionalised, and that it resulted in members of this society’s being murdered by Loyalist sectarian gangs.
That may not matter to some people in the Assembly. We listened to the titters of the DUP/Ulster Resistance when Mary Nelis outlined some of the horrendous consequences of that collusion. They thought that it was funny, but the murder of Nationalists is not funny, and it is certainly not for the DUP to belittle it and to humiliate the relatives of those who were cruelly murdered by Loyalist sectarian murder gangs, over whom, given court testimony, they have had considerable influence over the years. Do not just take my word for it; listen to those who have ended up in court, regretting that they listened to the words of DUP leaders.
Logically, the amendment cannot be supported, and I regret Michael McGimpsey’s comments; I expected more of him. He knows that the information that sustains the demands for inquiries into the formal involvement of British Army regiments and units in the murder of people in this society is irrefutable. It cannot be denied. Evidence of collusion will emerge eventually. It cannot be suppressed.
However, Mr McGimpsey knows that the British Government have been forced to resort to Public Immunity Certificates. He knows that because Loyalist paramilitaries confessed that the RUC Special Branch concealed the evidence in the case of William Stobie for ten years. When the evidence finally emerged, what did they do? They immediately arrested William Stobie in an attempt to intimidate him. Those people have much evidence to share with us about the role of the RUC Special Branch and the role of British military intelligence. Fair-minded people in the Assembly listening to the debate know that you cannot deny what is undeniable. The collusion happened. It was in an institutionalised form —
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Member appears to be directing many of his comments to me. He is alleging that I know something that he cannot prove, which I deny. For him to stand here and say that I know is nonsense, and I ask him to use a different form of rhetoric. Perhaps he will revert to — [Interruption].
Perhaps Michael McGimpsey should have chosen his words more carefully and with more certainty because he did, in fact, deny the undeniable. I regret that, and I prefaced my comments on that basis. I expected more from you, some even-handedness. We know that the information that has emerged about collusion is simply —
I thought that I was doing that.
Members of the Assembly know that the information that has surfaced on collusion is simply the tip of the iceberg. When the full story comes to light — and it most certainly will — I urge people to choose their comments very carefully.
The information cannot be suppressed indefinitely, and when it emerges it will be a huge story.
We know that the then British Attorney-General, Sir Patrick Mayhew, who later became the Secretary of State here, secured a deal with Brian Nelson so that Nelson did not have to take the witness stand during his trial. Why? It was because Nelson would have testified about his recruitment by British Intelligence while he was a member of the British Army. He was recruited to become a member of the Loyalist paramilitaries. He would have then testified about his role — under the direction of British Intelligence — in directing murder.
Colonel J, or, to give him his correct name and title, Col Gordon Kerr — who has been recognised and rewarded by the British Government — was noticeably silent, when he gave evidence at that trial, about Nelson’s direct involvement in many murders. Nelson had originally been charged with 10 murders and involvement in 16 attempted murders. All of those charges were mysteriously dropped.
Ulster Resistance was founded by the DUP. We all remember the red berets. Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson, and Gregory Campbell — a Minister in the Assembly — were associated with that. No one disputes that Ulster Resistance imported weapons from South Africa that were subsequently used to murder innocent Catholics in the community. Those are the facts. That evidence is there — like it or not.
There are people in the Assembly who have had roles in the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and who could tell us many stories. They could perhaps tell us who murdered Patrick Kelly in County Tyrone. Which UDR patrol was it? There are people here who know that information, and they should share it with us.
All that has fanned the flames of insurrection, violence and conflict. That selective approach will not work — the truth will come out. I urge the Assembly to support the motion and to reject the lie that the amendment will perpetuate.
I oppose the motion and support the amendment. One of the things that the debate has clearly established on behalf of those who have proposed the motion, is that the demand for independent inquiries is based on nothing more than empty allegations and unsubstantiated claims. In the short time available, I want to substantiate the point that I have just made, in relation to the demand for an independent inquiry into the murder of Rosemary Nelson.
That demand was based on two fundamental claims about the RUC. First, that the RUC lacks the professional competence to properly investigate that crime. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) legal attaché and Colin Port, who is the person responsible for the overall investigation, went to the trouble, on 12 April 1999, of making a public statement to categorically refute any possibility that there should be an independent inquiry based on the professional incompetence of the RUC. They said that without the involvement of the RUC there was no hope of the investigation being successfully pursued.
Also, when the FBI legal attaché, with his team of FBI experts, became involved with the members of the RUC who were undertaking the investigation, he said that the FBI had no expertise that it could offer to the RUC. The statement by those two leading experts was, of course, met with an hysterical outburst from the SDLP, which claimed that it was appalled by that declaration.
A second, even more serious, consideration is that there should be an independent inquiry into the death of Rosemary Nelson because the RUC has, in some way, colluded in her murder. That claim of collusion is based on allegations that RUC officers made threats against Rosemary Nelson. Those allegations were made by clients of Rosemary Nelson who were being investigated by the RUC.
The UN rapporteur, Param Cumaraswamy, gave unqualified credibility to those claims. He said, in his report of 5 March 1998, that he was satisfied that there had been harassment and intimidation of defence lawyers by RUC officers, as had been described. He was also satisfied that the harassment and intimidation were consistent and systematic.
There are two fundamental problems with that claim by the UN rapporteur. The first is that Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, the Independent Commissioner for the holding centres, in a report on 31 March 1999, categorically rejected the claim. Sir Louis Blom-Cooper is a human rights lawyer of international repute.
Sir Louis Blom-Cooper said
"We note that the Special Rapporteur has concluded that there has been police harassment of the few members of the legal profession who provide their services at the Holding Centres; but we know, and have recorded one instance in our Fifth Annual Report, where an allegation of harassment was positively not substantiated. We cannot, therefore, endorse the Special Rapporteur’s conclusion".
Blom-Cooper was saying that that claim and endorsement by the UN rapporteur contained allegations that were known to be untrue and, therefore, he could not endorse the report. These allegations were also a matter of investigation by Cdr Mulvihill of the Metropolitan Police.
The details of the report and the investigation by Mulvihill were made public on 30 March 1999. The conclusion of the Mulvihill inquiry was
" I am confident that the facts of the case(s)" — cases about allegations of threats to Rosemary Nelson —
"have not only now been established … but were established during the original inquiry(ies)" by the RUC.
Mulvihill was conducting an inquiry into the way in which the RUC had originally held inquiries on these cases and into the credibility of the threats. He said that the original inquiry had established the facts of the case.
On the basis of the Mulvihill inquiry, there was nothing that the DPP could do to proceed against the officers against whom the claims had been made. There are absolutely no grounds for an independent inquiry into the case on the basis of either professional incompetence or collusion.
There has been a great deal of discussion, and I will try not to go over old ground. Sinn Féin must be realistic when it talks about these issues. I heard Mr McLaughlin say that there was institutionalised collusion. I think that he actually meant that all the security forces colluded with Loyalists.
I worry when I hear Sinn Féin members talk about loyalist death squads. They speak as if the IRA had never planted 13 bombs in the Shankhill and killed over 30 Protestants, and as if the people who did that could not be described as Republican death squads. Sometimes we wonder how they were able to do that and not get caught.
No. I have only five minutes — I do not have time.
Anyone who believes that paramilitary organisations did not infiltrate security forces is living in cloud cuckoo land. I speak from experience — I have been about for a long time. In the paramilitary organisations that I know of, everybody was told to join the security forces to learn what they could.
The IRA had men in the French Foreign Legion, the United States Army, the gardaí, and in the army in the Irish Republic, who brought back what they had learned. They even had men involved in a training camp in Libya. It is a nonsense that the paramilitary organisations do not use whatever they can to get information and training.
Anyone who tells me that the members of the prison service who worked for Republicans did not give them information about Brian Armour at the time that he was blown up, or that Billy Wright was killed in prison without there being collusion, is also living in cloud cuckoo land. I spent 16 years in a prison and in all that time — even in the roughest weather — I never saw a watchtower without an officer in it.
Stephen Larkin, an IRA man from Ardoyne, who tried to kill Billy Wright in a packed Shankill street in 1993, was a member of the French Foreign Legion. What did he do with his skills and the information that he gained there from British soldiers and others? He used it for the IRA. People were encouraged to do that in all paramilitary organisations, and people should be realistic about that.
I spent 16 years in prison. I was sent there by the RUC. I was beaten by the British Army. I was in a British jail, and I was tried by a British court. There was no collusion in my case. However, 13,000 Loyalist prisoners have been through the jails — there has been some collusion.
An IRA ring of British Telecom technicians was recently uncovered. Does that mean that all British Telecom employees collude with the IRA? Can we presume that every Nationalist teacher in every school colludes with the IRA? A Natural Law Party staff member, who worked in north Down, gathered information for the IRA, some of which related to Mr Ervine, a member of my party. That man was convicted, because, along with many others, he was working for the IRA. Of course there has been collusion.
The difficulty is that Republicans do not realise that Loyalists can gather information in the same way, as the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure pointed out. Loyalists are not thick, despite what some like to think. Loyalist paramilitaries have various means of gathering information; they do not always need to rely on the help of the security forces.
I do not dispute that a British intelligence unit did set up an organisation in the UDA in the cases of Brian Nelson and others. That was evident, over the last few weeks, from some of its activity. The aim was to get at Loyalists as much as at anyone else. We have seen how it has poisoned the Loyalist community. We recognise that, but that is an isolated incident — neither the whole of the RUC nor the whole of the British Army is involved, and that must be recognised.
There is no doubt that information gained as a result of collusion between the Garda Síochána and the IRA was used in the killings of Judge Gibson and RUC officers, Buchanan and Breen. Mr Sammy Wilson has said that that embarrassed the gardaí. It is a waste of time to discuss systematic institutionalisation, because that did not happen. We must recognise that people on both sides were involved in murder, and they used any information that they could get.
The debate reflects what a dirty, rotten war there was. It reflects the desperate hunger for the truth about the murders that took place here over the past 30 years. Mr Billy Hutchinson said that infiltration took place on both sides, and there is no doubt that that was the case. When war comes through the door, human rights go out the window.
In response to Mr Hutchinson, I stress that both men and women were involved in paramilitary infiltration, be they from the Prison Service, the British Army, the RUC or the gardaí. These facts are now emerging, because after ceasefires are declared, that frozen watchfulness that prevents people from speaking often begins to melt. That happens either through the judicial process or when people find a safe space to say what they need to say, a space that they could not find before. That needs to happen much more.
We must move towards the stage where people begin to say sorry. People who ring me, and who feel pain daily because of their experiences, need to hear an apology. They also need to hear more than an admission that "It was wrong." They need to hear the voice of those who were responsible saying that things will be done differently in the future. Unfortunately, until some of the mess that we have created is cleared up, there will be neither remorse nor an acceptance of responsibility. We will not hear the words "We will make a difference."
Pain is caused by both sides. I was heartened when, finally, some of the truth about what happened to the families of "the disappeared" emerged. I was heartened when the list of names was published, and I believe that the families were too. There was, of course, terrible pain felt when the bodies were not recovered.
Burying people and not telling their families where they could be found was a terrible human rights disaster. Much still needs to be done for those who were never on the list. Many families are hurting to this day and simply want to know where the bodies are buried. That is the kind of truth that I am talking about.
I remember when two of my friends were murdered during the troubles. I wanted to know three things: what happened to them; how did it happen; and who did it. In the case of one of them I still do not know. Many of us have had to pick up the pieces and get on with our lives. There are others who simply beg for a little drop of truth.
Maura Babbington from north Belfast recently contacted me. If anyone here were to meet that woman, I am sure that he would also understand the pain of being told that her husband had been shot by mistake because he happened to be wearing the overalls of the intended target. She says that she is now worried about the hierarchy of inquiries. Where is she ever going to get her truth? The IRA did admit shooting her husband. To be told that he was shot by mistake did not lessen her pain. It may have helped her to know that she could at least survive without the neighbours whispering and wondering "Was he an informer?", as often happens. She still talks about the day on which the life went out of her when they murdered him. She still waits to hear what his last words were and who was there when he lay dying on the pavement. We will never know. There have been 3,500 people murdered and, as Alban Maginness said, from both sides and all sides.
There are times when it is important to have inquiries as well as criminal investigations. I know that it is possible — the Stephen Lawrence inquiry set the precedent. It said that there was a need for a criminal investigation and that at the same time there could be a judicial inquiry. We can all learn from the mistakes made when Stephen Lawrence was murdered, given the aftermath and the fantastic recommendations that came out of that inquiry. It is in the public interest, where possible, to hold inquiries — and they do not have to hurt anyone.
Let people start talking with a little bit of remorse in their voices and start accepting some responsibility for how things will be done differently in the future.
I oppose the motion because it is rich coming from Mrs Nelis after what we have heard from Mr Brian Keenan in the last couple of days.
I served in the security forces for 28 years, and never once was I sent out to kill. I was sent out to protect society from the rape of terrorism. For many years now Sinn Féin/IRA and the SDLP have made allegations that security force elements were colluding with Loyalist paramilitary groups to target Catholics. I will place on record at the outset that I completely reject all forms of terrorism. Suffice it to say that it is unrealistic for Sinn Féin/IRA, the SDLP and the Irish Government to call for inquiries into allegations made against our security services, while at the same time imagining that the gardaí did not have its rotten apples.
I would like to address one specific issue. Mrs Nelis made a glaring omission in her motion. She referred to several organisations which, she says, have conspired in planning the murder of Catholics, but she has omitted one. That organisation, which according to figures quoted from the book ‘Lost Lives’ has shown itself to be to the forefront when it comes to being responsible for the deaths of Catholics, is the IRA. A total of 3,636 people are listed as having lost their lives in the troubles. Of those 2,139 — 59 % — were murdered by Republican terrorists, with the IRA responsible for 1,771 of them. That is 49% of all those killed in the troubles.
It may come as a surprise to Mrs Nelis to learn that the IRA has been responsible for the murder of 402 Catholics, including 198 described as civilians. In fact the IRA, the so-called defenders of the Catholic people, was responsible for more Catholic deaths than our Army and the RUC combined.
During the troubles, the security forces were responsible for 367 deaths — fewer than a quarter of the total number murdered by Republican terrorists. Of these 367 deaths, 138 were Catholics killed by the Army and 26 by the RUC.
However, let us not leave matters here, because the misery inflicted upon the Catholic community does not begin and end with dead Catholic civilians. To that sorry toll, we must add those Catholics who answered their country’s call by wearing the uniforms of the RUC and the UDR. These figures are conclusive proof of one thing: the IRA, far from being the defender of the Catholic community, has been the organisation that delivered the greatest misery to it. That misery is ever present in the graves and through the disappeared, the broken bodies and the exiled.
Catholic members of the security forces, Catholic civilian staff members of the RUC and UDR, the disappeared, the informers, the expelled, the victims of punishment beatings and shootings, rival drug dealers and criminal elements have all felt the force of the IRA at some time.
They, their families and thousands of others trapped in the ghettos created by the IRA’s godfathers have had to live through a nightmare. There used to be a good deal of talk about the Nationalist nightmare. The figures that I quoted prove that the nightmare was created and sustained, in no small part, by those who still like to portray themselves as the defenders of the Nationalist community.
I have a question for those who call for an inquiry into the deaths of Pat Finucane, Robert Hamill and Rosemary Nelson: why be so selective? Why are these campaigners not equally vociferous in a call for an inquiry into the deaths of the many Catholic police officers, members of the judiciary or civilians who were murdered by the IRA itself?
I am loath to name individual Catholics who were murdered by the IRA, because I do not wish to reopen the old wounds of victims’ families, but Jean McConville, Judge William Doyle, Mary Travers and many who were killed at Omagh were all Catholics. Their deaths do not, however, appear to trouble the consciences of Mrs Nelis and her party colleagues, nor indeed, I am sorry to say, the consciences of some of those on the SDLP Benches.
If Mrs Nelis and her party are really serious about finding out who was responsible for the murder and misery visited upon sections of the Catholic community in Northern Ireland, she should look for the perpetrators a little closer to home. I can guarantee that many in her party, perhaps even some on her own Benches, may not appreciate the media spotlight.
As Mrs Nelis said only yesterday, if we are to have confidence in the future, we must know the truth. I want to hear the truth throughout.
I will return to Mr Foster’s question, but I will begin by discussing a matter with the same theme. Mr McLaughlin, in his last remarks, criticised the selective approach taken and said that the truth will come out. I have never heard a more telling indictment of a Sinn Fein motion on the Floor of the Assembly by a Sinn Fein Member than that comment from Mr McLaughlin. His words indict the motion — it is selective in its approach, and Mr McLaughlin’s contribution and comments, did not add much to the debate. Arguably, they fuelled the conflict.
Secondly, Mrs Nelis said that there was a "dirty war" in Ireland. She blamed the state alone for the "dirty war" in Ireland. Yes, there was a dirty war in Ireland. There were elements in the British Army who were involved in that dirty war and that, latterly, became known as the work of the force research unit.
Any democratic citizen of any democratic state should be concerned when the Army of that state becomes involved in a policy of murder of innocent people to bring about a desired security outcome. All of us, regardless of our backgrounds, should acknowledge that that is not the role of any element in the British Army.
The dirty war in Ireland was not conducted by the RUC as an institution, but rather by individuals in the RUC over a long period. There was also a dirty war visited upon our community against its wishes by paramilitary organisations.
I acknowledge that in the paramilitary organisations there were people who demonstrated enormous growth, were highly motivated and who might even have been well intentioned. None the less, they were involved in a dirty war, and we should call it what it was.
I want to move on from that issue because every week, if not every day, we have a debate that is characterised by differences of opinion about the past.
It is about collusion by one side or the other, the truth of one death or another and our experience of conflict. We are defensive, divisive, adversarial and exclusive in what we say. I do not apply that to any one party in the Chamber. It is understandable, because we are trying to express our grief, pain and anger. It is necessary to talk through these things and even begin listening to each other. We will not overcome the legacy of the conflict over the past 30 years until we move away from talking at each other and start talking to each other.
Sooner or later we must move away from what I have referred to as the concept of "choosing victories and chosen victims". In Yugoslavia, the experience of the second world war was suppressed after Tito’s rise to power. People suppressed their emotions and anger about what one family and community did to another. If we suppress what we did to each other — citizen to citizen and community to community — we will not evolve and move away from conflict in a creative way. Somehow, the Assembly and the community must devise a global and inclusive mechanism to deal with the past.
We have begun to deal with the past: the Bloody Sunday inquiry; the returning of the bodies of "the disappeared"; these debates, the victims’ commissions, and many other initiatives. However, we need a broader mechanism so that instead of talking about what has happened we will begin to interpret and understand the past. That time will come sooner rather than later. Despite the divisive and adversarial nature of the debates in the Chamber, I sense that our communities are further down that road than we are. Why I believe that is captured in an ancient Greek phrase that Robert Kennedy often quoted:
"They have learned more than we have learned. In our sleep, pain, which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."
They had wisdom, and we should begin to share it.
I support the amendment. The motion brought forward by Sinn Féin/IRA is ludicrous, because if the level of collusion that is alleged to have happened had really taken place, the whole lot of them would have been wiped out years ago. That is the reality. If what these people told us was true they would have been cleared of years ago. They would not be about. The fact of life is that the level of collusion that they allege took place between the RUC, the British Army and Loyalist paramilitaries did not happen.
Yes, there were rotten apples in the barrel. Yes, there were individuals who might have been involved. However, no large-scale collusion took place between the British Army, the police and Loyalist paramilitaries. It was mentioned that 13,000 individuals from the Loyalist community were jailed. Who put them there? It was not the gardaí. It was not the French Foreign Legion. It was the RUC; they were the prosecuting officers in each of those cases. Why did they send them to jail if they were such good buddies?
A lot is being said about Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson and Robert Hamill. I always find the stench of hypocrisy that comes from the SDLP especially surprising. Remember years ago when Mr Hume told us that we should draw a line under the past; put everything behind us; break sweat not tears; and let us go forward together. What do they say when the opportunity to do that presents itself with the new police force? They say "We will not go into the new police force until we get an inquiry into Finucane, Hamill and all those other inquiries that happened in the past."
Of course, the Bloody Sunday inquiry is ongoing as well. How much has that cost — £30 million, £40 million, £50 million? I have not heard the latest tally, but it is believed that it will cost well in excess of £100 million. How many jobs, hospital beds and schools could be provided for by the money being buried in the Bloody Sunday inquiry?
In an effort to outdo Sinn Féin, the SDLP is insisting on more inquiries, but it told the Unionist community to draw a line under the past. It cannot go unsaid that collusion took place with the IRA by members of the RUC, by members of the British Army, by members of the Prison Service and by members of the gardaí. Equally, they were rotten apples, as were those involved in giving information to Loyalist paramilitaries.
The notion that there was widespread collusion between security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries in the Province is simply that — a notion. It has no basis in reality. We have heard nothing today from IRA/Sinn Féin to give us any serious basis for supporting the motion or for making us believe that there was widespread collusion. In the past few weeks, IRA/Sinn Féin Members threatened members of the public and members of organisations. In the last few days there has been a very high profile resignation — people know what I am talking about. A Member of the Assembly was involved in that. It is IRA/Sinn Féin who are making threats, carrying out murders and destroying our community. The motion is spurious in nature, and the allegations are spurious. I support the amendment.
Go raibh maith agat, Madam Deputy Speaker. I endorse the call from Mary Nelis for an inquiry into allegations of collusion. I do not want to repeat any of the comments made earlier, but suffice it to say that I want to be consistent.
A few weeks ago I spoke on a motion tabled by Danny Kennedy of the UUP. During that debate I said that we should have inquiries into all these allegations. If people say that these things did not happen, we should have an inquiry to clear the air. They cannot have it both ways — they cannot say that this did happen or did not happen. People have been quoting selectively from one book or another. However, the evidence is clear that there is a need for an inquiry.
I oppose the DUP’s amendment, not because I am in the least bit concerned about it, contrary to some of Sammy Wilson’s comments. I am not in the least bit interested in having the matter aired or attacks on my party aired. That happens here every day of the week anyway so it is like water off a duck’s back. Sammy Wilson referred to some Sinn Féin Members being on the run from the debate. Despite the DUP’s lengthy campaign to smash Sinn Féin, we are still here, we are still very strong, and we will never be on the run from people like the DUP. Ultimately they will do more talking than anything else. The need for an inquiry is crucial.
I want to take issue with Sammy Wilson’s comments that our party surrounds itself with a lot of pseudo-legal organisations. I presume he means Amnesty International, Helsinki Watch, the US Congress Committee, the United Nations special rapporteur, Mr Cumaraswamy — to name a few of the world renowned legal organisations and human rights organisations that have laid the finger of blame, or have at least said that there is a clear case to be answered in respect of collusion in this state.
Billy Hutchinson missed the point when he talked about organisations wanting to infiltrate police or whatever else from any state. That may well be true, but I am not interested in going into that. That is a totally and utterly separate thing from a state infiltrating those organisations to pursue an agenda which involves a violation of human rights and murder.
Sammy Wilson quoted at length from a number of books. I stand here as probably the only official victim of collusion. Brian Nelson was convicted of conspiring to murder several people, including me. I do not know of anyone else here in that category.
I know that Brian Nelson and others have targeted Republicans and many of my colleagues, including those in the Chamber today. However, I am probably one of the few in the official annals because Brian Nelson was convicted of conspiring to kill me, and I was injured in one of those attacks.
Fortunately, I do not take these things personally. Nevertheless, there is a need for an inquiry. If Billy Hutchinson’s argument is logical and all these things happen despite the police’s being against them and with so many people being arrested, let us have an inquiry. Let us detail and examine the extent to which Loyalist paramilitary organisations were infiltrated and directed by the state forces here, and not only the RUC but also by the Force Research Unit (FRU) — because that happened. I know that Mr Hutchinson does not like to acknowledge that Loyalist organisations through the years have been heavily infiltrated. There have been rare occasions when there were not several agents running at one time in all the Loyalist paramilitary organisations. I have no doubt that that continues to this day. That is something that Loyalist organisations find difficult to come to terms with. What it suggests is that without the help of the RUC they could not have killed as many Catholics as they did, because they did not, unfortunately for their own reckoning, kill that many Republicans anyway — [Interruption].
Of course, the IRA killed people over the years. Colleagues and I have acknowledged that in this Chamber and other public forums in the past. The motion is deals with the allegation of state collusion, and I stress that one of the members of the FRU has given an affidavit to the courts, which will see the light of day in the not-too-distant future.
In respect of my own case, the FRU handlers of Brian Nelson provided him with a plan from which I can quote. The plan put to Brian Nelson was no less than a detailed plot that they were convinced,
That is only one example. That account may or may not be true. There is a clear need for an inquiry, and people are quoting all sorts of sources. Let us have the inquiry and get the facts out.
This is the latest in a long line of Sinn Feín demands for investigations.
If we want a truth commission, then let us have a truth commission. Let us examine the role on Bloody Friday of the member of the Belfast brigade who sits in the Chamber. Let us examine the role of the IRA Chief of Staff in IRA atrocities throughout the 1980s. If we learnt anything from South Africa, we learnt that we should stay well away from truth commissions.
Agents are a part of any country’s defences. Human intelligence in an organisation is far superior to any other source. We can recall the recent case of an FBI deep penetration agent working for Russia for years and years. It is part of the infrastructure of defence.
We can go back to Elizabethan times; we can look at the wall-to-wall informers throughout the 1798 rebellion; we can look at the so-called war of independence, during which Michael Collins was running agents in Dublin Castle and the Special Branch in Dublin — a key part of the IRA’s campaign between 1918-21.
Agents are a vital part of the security forces in countering terrorism. We can think of the stories of Raymond Gilmour, Martin McGartland and Sean O’Callaghan who have written in some detail about their operations inside the IRA and the effect they had on people still alive today. If you talk to the security forces, they will tell you that agent penetration had a large part to play in the ending of the IRA campaign, when 80% of IRA operations were either called off or interdicted by 1994.
The IRA treatment of its own informers is appalling. Eamonn Collins described his time on the "nutting squad" when he was involved in the death of some of the hundreds of informers in the IRA, who were tortured, shot and dumped along the border. Mr Collins himself ended up in the same condition.
There has certainly been collusion in the gardaí, and the cases which individuals in the security forces have been involved with that in Northern Ireland are well-documented. Some are still subject to investigation, and no doubt that investigation will take its due course.
Agents, sources and informers are part of any anti- terrorist campaign.
What evidence exists of collusion between the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries? In 30 years, 26 Republicans have been killed by Loyalist paramilitaries. That displays an amazing degree of incompetence on behalf of the Loyalist paramilitaries, who have murdered hundreds of innocent Nationalists and never had a problem killing the nearest Catholic. My argument is that if there was all that collusion, how come only 26 Republicans were killed during the entire 30 years? That clearly refutes the allegation.
Sinn Féin talks a great deal about our shared identity, and the need — and I think we have a need — to put the past behind us. I must say that stirring up divisions through spurious motions like this is most mischievous and extremely unhelpful.
A Cheann Comhairle. I want to reiterate what Mr Maskey said. Doubt is being expressed in the Chamber as to whether there was collusion. The only way to put that doubt to rest is to have a public inquiry, whatever the fallout. If it has to be a truth commission, then let us have one. Let us put to rest the hurts and sores that lack of inquiries have led to.
Allegations of collusion are not just coming from the Republican side. Sergeant Campbell was murdered in Cushendall, and his family is asking for an inquiry into his murder. He was a member of the RUC and his family alleges there was collusion in the security forces in his murder. He was murdered in Cushendall by a serving member of the RUC. He was not a Republican.
In the murder triangle in the greater Portadown area, Monsignor Denis Faul — who is the darling of many people on the Unionist side — was at the forefront in saying and writing that there was collusion between the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries.
Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson are two high profile cases but there are others — anecdotal and local cases — that the Nationalist community points to in which men and women were murdered as a result of collusion with security forces — [Interruption].
Billy Hutchinson asked whether there was collusion in Billy Wright’s murder. There quite possibly was collusion in his murder. But who colluded in his murder if it was not the security forces? Billy Wright was becoming too hot to handle — he knew too much, and he was about to expose his relationship with the security forces. Sinn Féin does not have a problem about having an inquiry into the murder of Billy Wright. All we are saying is let us have these inquiries and let us put to rest the reasons we are asking for them. Who should fear to speak in inquiries if there is no collusion?
The Nationalist community believes that British security forces thought that the only way to put a damper on Nationalism was to find some way of murdering Nationalists — other than their own way — and, therefore, they sought collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries.
They colluded with Loyalist paramilitaries to target Republicans and Nationalists and to "win the war" in that fashion. It is these things that are left to rankle deep in the Nationalist community. It is essential that we bring these matters to the Assembly and ask for an inquiry into them. Take the UDR, a battalion of the British Army that became an embarrassment to the British Government because many of its members behaved in a manner contrary and contradictory to any notion of law and order. Many of its members held dual membership with Loyalist paramilitary groups and stole weapons from their own barracks and brigades. Some members of the UDR went to prison for what they had done and then later served in the UDR. They became an embarrassment to the British Government, and the regiment was disbanded.
What is the driving force behind the Sinn Féin motion this afternoon? Undoubtedly, it is not driven by a mass call from the decent law-abiding Catholic citizens of Northern Ireland. Alban Maginness attempted to distance the SDLP from Sinn Féin and the motion today. However, neither the SDLP leadership nor Mr Maginness can wash their hands of their failure over the last 30 odd years to support the forces of law and order and the RUC in their attempts to bring those terrorising this community to justice. That has prolonged the agony of our community for both Catholics and Protestants. Let there be no misapprehension that either Sinn Féin or the SDLP is making this call on behalf of the decent law-abiding Catholic citizen in Northern Ireland. On the contrary, those in the Catholic community who have the courage and the bravery to speak up when they are interviewed on television would be calling for inquiries into the missing bodies of the disappeared. That subject has disappeared from the media — they are no longer interested in it. Many people throughout Northern Ireland have now forgotten the plight of people like Helen McKendry, whose mother, Jean McConville, remains one of those shot dead and lost by the cohorts of Sinn Féin members, who have the effrontery to come before the Assembly today with the motion.
Almost everyone in Northern Ireland who supports democracy and law and order agrees that if there is a need for an inquiry, it would certainly be appropriate to investigate the connection between senior figures of the Sinn Féin movement and that of the IRA. The Member from North Down referred to that pressing matter and to the fact that Mr Adams was the commanding officer of the Belfast brigade of the IRA and Mr McGuinness was the commanding officer of the Derry brigade of the IRA during the activities following Bloody Sunday. When we look at the issue mooted today, we must look at the activities of Sinn Féin/IRA.
It is nothing short of a disgrace that we have a system of Government in Northern Ireland that has been so polluted by the representatives of armed terror. Within the ranks of the Sinn Féin/IRA leadership are those who are still serving members of the IRA Army Council. Mr Doherty, Mr McGuinness and Mr Adams are all serving members of the Army Council.
Turning to current events, we should note Mr Brian Keenan’s comments at the weekend when he declared, as a senior Sinn Féin/IRA officer in both of those organisations, that the war was not over.
I finish my short address by simply appealing to all Unionists in the Chamber to unite in the coming weeks to support a motion, which should be debated, on a matter that is urgently pressing. There is nothing more important that could be debated by the House. The motion resolves that Sinn Féin does not enjoy the confidence of the Assembly because it is not committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means and — [Interruption].
We had, on one side, an interesting debate, because the gross hypocrisy of IRA/Sinn Féin was exposed. They had the brass neck to come and talk about what, in their motion, they claim is collusion between the security forces — that is, the Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch and British Army intelligence — and the Loyalist paramilitaries in the "planning and murder of Catholics". That is utter hypocrisy. In her opening remarks, the Member who introduced the debate said that its purpose was to seek to lay to rest those allegations. The truth is that if any motion were accepted today or any inquiry into any allegation were to be initiated, nothing would be laid to rest unless the relevant tribunal gave the statement that IRA/Sinn Féin or the SDLP wanted it to give. An example is the Bloody Sunday inquiry. After £100 million has been wasted, if that tribunal does not state what the SDLP and Sinn Féin want it to state, they will dismiss it completely and demand another inquiry. Nothing will satisfy the insatiable demands of Republicanism. All that Republicanism wants is for the people of Northern Ireland and the British Government to lie down and let themselves be trampled into the gutter.
Let us look at some remarks which were made in today’s debate. Mrs Nelis stated that 500 Republicans were informed by the RUC today that they were under threat. Why did she want to bring that up? Sinn Féin has never believed anything else the RUC has said, so why do they believe that this is accurate information? They reject everything the RUC says; they throw the baby out with the bath water, and then they bring this up — that she has solid evidence from the RUC that 500 Republicans are under threat. That shows you the brazen hypocrisy of that party, because it does not believe anything stated by the Royal Ulster Constabulary. They have done everything to blacken that gallant organisation, which has defended the rights and privileges of all the people of Northern Ireland.
I agree with what Mr McGimpsey said about Mrs Nelis coming out with the usual black propaganda. That is exactly what she and John Kelly were doing. Sinn Féin were coming out with their black propaganda.
The sad fact is that the party that is coming out with the black propaganda against the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the other security forces — Sinn Féin/IRA — has been put into the Government of Northern Ireland by the Ulster Unionist Party. That is why I agree with Mr Wilson that we should ensure as a matter of urgency that Sinn Féin/IRA is put out of its Executive positions. It is destroying democracy — [Interruption].
I will not waste time challenging that ruling. I am simply stating that Sinn Féin/IRA have colluded with the gardaí and others to murder Protestants and Roman Catholics in this country. The spotlight ought to be upon Sinn Féin/IRA.
We should remember the gross hypocrisy of Sinn Féin about the intimidation of Roman Catholics who wanted to join the RUC. Those people were intimidated and could not go back to their homes. Some Members are smirking about that. It is despicable and disgraceful that people should be intimidated for wanting to join the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Now, we see the same intimidation of Roman Catholics who dare to put in an application form for the new police force. Sinn Féin refuses to condemn, saying that it is not into the politics of condemnation. However, Sinn Féin is not against condemnation of the RUC, the army, or the Loyalists. It is not into the politics of condemnation when it comes to IRA activity against law-abiding people, whether they be Roman Catholics or Protestants. As Alban Maginness said, although the RUC killed 43 Roman Catholics, the IRA murdered 381. Those figures speak for themselves.
Our Government have demoralised the RUC and left the IRA intact, although that organisation ought to be dismantled and destroyed. The tragedy for the RUC is not collusion; it is that our Government never allowed our security forces to fight the IRA and put them where they belong. Tragically, the Government tied the security forces’ hands behind their back and did not allow them to destroy the terrorist scourge that threatened the whole community.
We have been promised more terror. At the weekend, Sinn Féin/IRA’s Mr Keenan said that he did not know what those who said the war was over were talking about. He said
"The revolution can never be over … until we have British imperialism where it belongs — in the dustbin of history."
That is the heart of the motion. They would remove, destroy and demoralise the security forces and the forces of law and order in the Province. That was said just last weekend, but, of course, Sinn Féin/IRA is not into the politics of condemnation.
Mr "Wash his hands" Pilate McLaughlin said that they did not really intend to threaten anyone. When that same person was asked whether Martin McGuinness was a member of the IRA, he replied that it had been his practice throughout his political career not to involve himself in issues that were outside his field. He seemed to have a great deal of information for us today, despite his claims that he knows nothing about the organisation of which he and his colleagues form a part. Sinn Féin and the IRA are two sides of the same coin; even the Irish Government have told us that. Yet, Mr McLaughlin wants us to believe that he knows nothing about Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams or anything about the IRA.
The IRA has colluded with the Gardaí.
They have colluded with heads of Government in the Irish Republic. Remember when the old Stickies stood aside and the Provisionals came into existence? Who armed the Provisionals? It was the Southern Irish Government — the Fianna Fáil Government — that armed the Provos to carry out their dastardly deeds upon the people of Northern Ireland. They talk about inquiries. Let us have a few honest inquiries. Let us have an inquiry into why Sinn Féin/IRA is in the Government of this country. People want to know why those who are committed to the paths of terrorism are allowed to sit in government over the people whom they have destroyed, murdered and slaughtered for the past 30 years.
Enough money has been wasted on inquiries such as the Bloody Sunday inquiry. The RUC officers are the heroes, not the villains. They ought to be commended. I certainly commend the security forces for their defence of freedom in this beloved Province.
No one stands here to say that he or she agrees with every action of every member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. No one would say that of his or her Colleagues in the Chamber. Nevertheless, the truth is that the Royal Ulster Constabulary has gallantly defended the rights and freedoms of this country against one of the most bloodthirsty campaigns of terror and violence that any group of people has ever had to endure in the history of our beloved country.
We are faced with a motion today that never had any intention of getting to the heart of the problems of Northern Ireland. Sinn Féin was trying to cover its own guilt over the slaughter of the people here.
Monica McWilliams said that we must reflect on what a dirty war it was. What does she mean by "it was"?
Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. I will do my best in the time allotted to respond to all the Members who spoke. I remind Members that the motion
"calls on the Secretary of State to initiate an independent public inquiry into allegations of collusion between the Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch, British Military Intelligence and Loyalist paramilitaries in the planning and murder of Catholics."
I say to Sammy Wilson and Willie McCrea that they protest too much. I notice how uncomfortable people on the Unionist Benches are when the issue of collusion involving members of the security forces is raised. It was not Walter Mitty who murdered Patsy Kelly in Tyrone. Perhaps we should ask, as Mitchell McLaughlin has done, which element of the security forces was involved in that murder.
Sammy Wilson likes to quote from books. I can also quote from a few. I could direct the attention of the Unionist Members to a book by Kennedy Lindsay, ‘Ambush at Tully-West: The British Intelligence Services in Action’. It told the story of Ian Black, a member of the UDR, who used to put his car into the barracks at night when he went out on patrol in a jeep. He discovered that his car was being used by the British intelligence forces to go into west Belfast to murder Catholics. I did not say that. Nor did Amnesty International. Kennedy Lindsay said it, and it is in a book as a recorded fact. Members should get the book and read it.
On the issue of the IRA’s being involved in —
I will ignore that remark. But I am glad that he saw the light.
If members of the IRA were involved in murders, as the DUP states, they were caught and convicted. The issue here is not the role of the IRA, but the allegations that murder was carried out in the name of the state. For example, Brian Nelson’s handler Gordon Kerr, known as Colonel "J", who provided testimony at Nelson’s trial on charges of murder and conspiracy, did not go to prison. He got an OBE and a top job in Beijing. Sammy Wilson talked about a spotlight. The spotlight of scrutiny fell on Ulster Resistance — we all saw the rally in the Ulster Hall on television — when Gregory Campbell, Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson wore their red berets. We saw them, up on the top of a mountain somewhere, carrying firearms certificates.
Michael McGimpsey said that I did not bring forth any evidence to support the motion. He should read — as should everyone — articles by Amnesty International and the ‘Sunday Telegraph’, which is no friend of Sinn Féin’s. Look at the ‘Insight’ programme.
I said that there are allegations that Loyalist paramilitaries were killed in collusion that involved British military intelligence. I said that the handing out of personal details of Nationalists and Republicans was recorded on a UTV programme by Brian Black.
Alban McGuinness did not address the motion either. Is he saying that the British are neutral? Is he saying that they were not involved in collusion? Was Brian Nelson a figment of everyone’s imagination? Did Stobie, who was an agent of the RUC and who was charged with the murder of Pat Finucane, not exist? He ignores the response, and attempts to ignore the issue of the British state violence, while attempting to elevate other organisations to the position of being responsible for every death that has happened.
Jim Shannon gave us a tirade on how innocent the security forces are. If everyone in the security forces were as innocent as he suggests, one wonders why the British Government have steadfastly rejected calls by the United Nations and by Amnesty International to deny the allegations made before them.
As regards the allegations, which we heard from several Members, that the IRA killed more Catholics. That is what I would call the numbers game. The French Resistance killed more French people than Germans during World War II. Members should read history.
Mitchel McLaughlan referred to Stobie, who was a member of the UDA —[Interruption].
Stobie, when charged — and I quote directly — replied
"I am not guilty to the charge. I was a police informer for the Special Branch."
The truth, indeed, hits hard.
Paddy Roche talks about the inquiry into the murder of Rosemary Nelson. It is well documented that Rosemary Nelson was threatened by members of the RUC, who were identified by Commander Mulvihill. Evidence to support that was put forward by Louis Blom-Cooper, who stated that Rosemary Nelson was threatened. Mulvihill’s inquiry into the death of Rosemary Nelson is a sham, because it is being conducted from the very RUC station where those who threatened her are now located. Param Cumaraswamy said that as well.
Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. Billy Hutchinson made the most pointed response to the motion. I want to reply to him by stating that they did not argue that everyone involved in Loyalist paramilitaries was involved in collusion. I welcome Billy Hutchinson’s acknowledgement that there was collusion. That is contained in the spirit of the motion, and he was the only Member in the Chamber, apart from my own comrades, who tried to address that. I have not argued that every member of the RUC was a sectarian monster, but some were.
Monica McWilliams did not address the motion either. She talks about pain — [Interruption]
Yes, I know — [Interruption].
It is a humbling experience to listen to the relatives of those who were murdered in collusion with the state. They want to get on with their lives, but they cannot face the future until they establish the truth about the past.
The motion highlights the need for healing. It is not about remorse; it is about the role of the British state in many of the deaths that caused the pain about which Monica McWilliams talked.
Sam Foster, along with many others, gave us the numbers game. Inquiries into specific killings are necessary, because the questions of collusion by the state in those deaths have not been answered.
I say to Alex Attwood that the motion is clear — in fact the SDLP have indirectly supported it by using the calls for inquiries into the murders of Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson and Robert Hamill to enable them to move to the new Police Service Board. They did acknowledge that there was a dirty war, but then Alex Attwood went on to say that only selected members of the British forces were involved. If that is the case, then the British Government should tell us. They should acknowledge that they knew of the activities of the Forces Research Unit (FRU) and that they knew of the South African arms.
Edwin Poots raised the age-old argument — I think that it was RUC Chief Constable Hermon who used it years ago to try to put to rest the allegations of collusion then — of the few rotten apples in the barrel. Nobody believed him, and nobody believes Edwin Poots now either.
Order. This is the third or fourth time during this contribution that I have had to stand. I remind Members that there is dignity in the House and that the Member is entitled to be heard — [Interruption]. I have called for order — [Interruption].
I have called for order.
In fact, the whistle-blower, under the pseudonym Martin Ingram, wrote in a Belfast newspaper recently about the "right" people who were allowed to live and the "wrong" people who were not. Members should get hold of that and read it. Alan McFarland said that Sinn Féin was not making a demand. No, we are not making a demand; we are not calling for public inquiries — we are supporting the relatives who have called for them — [Interruption]
Order. The clock stopped during points of order — not during the time when I was calling for order and I was standing and waiting for order. I am giving Mrs Nelis 30 seconds to conclude her remarks.
Yes, agents are a part of the apparatus of the State. The motion clearly calls for the issue of collusion in the planning and carrying out of the murders of over 100 Catholics to be addressed by the British Government.
Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
That this Assembly rejects allegations of collusion between the RUC Special Branch, British Military Intelligence and Loyalist Paramilitaries and congratulates the security forces, who have striven to uphold law and order in Northern Ireland in the face of a sectarian campaign of murder directed by IRA/Sinn Féin in collusion with others.