Kenny hits out at Smithwick snub republicans
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has hit out at republicans who have refused to give evidence at the Smithwick tribunal into IRA-Garda collusion.
Mr Kenny criticised the decision by former Provisionals on the back of renewed calls from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams for a truth and reconciliation forum to cement the Northern Ireland peace process.
Tribunal chair Judge Peter Smithwick revealed that his investigators have cut ties with three former IRA members as they examine the murders of two senior policemen in 1989.
The IRA members, one who had direct knowledge of the killings, had been assisting the tribunal over the ambush of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan.
“Those who were engaged with the Smithwick tribunal should now have the decency to give up the information that is necessary for the Smithwick tribunal to do its work,” the Taoiseach said.
“We all believed that these things were in the past and for the Sinn Féin leader to continuously call for a truth and reconciliation commission is something that could be applied to those Provisional IRA members who have information on serious incidents and tragedies in the past that they should own up to.”
Only one meeting took place between tribunal lawyers and the IRA members.
They answered some questions in private but refused a second meeting late last year and refused to be questioned in person at the inquiry.
Some of their evidence will be read into the record at the inquiry today.
Mr Adams described the assistance that the former Provos gave to the tribunal as “historically unparalleled”.
“Clearly this would not have been possible but for the tribunal creating the context to allow it. I commend this,” he said.
Mr Adams repeated his calls for the Irish and British governments to establish an Independent International Truth Commission.
Later, at the tribunal, several former Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) members denied claims in a 2002 Northern Ireland Office document that they had been aware that “the likely cause of collusion in the Buchanan and Breen case was a senior Catholic RUC officer''.
Lady Sylvia Hermon, wife of the late RUC chief constable John Hermon and said to be the source of the allegation, described it as grossly inaccurate and wholly untrue.
Former first minister David Trimble, now Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey, former party chair David Campbell, and Jeffrey Donaldson – now a DUP MP – said they had no recollection of the allegation or any knowledge behind the double murder.
The tribunal was shown a redacted version of the 2002 NIO document, signed by Peter Waterworth, then principal private secretary.
Paragraph 5 of the document stated: “What seemed to have inspired Hermon to speak out was Trimble almost divulging in front of Donaldson and (David) Burnside at the Parliamentary Party meeting information she had given to Campbell a year ago that the likely source of collusion in the Buchanan and Breen case was ’a senior Catholic RUC officer’.”
The document said Lady Hermon had no specific information about the officer’s identity and that she feared for the consequences for the PSNI if the allegation became public.
Mr Waterworth has written a lengthy letter to the tribunal standing over the document.
Ken Maginnis, former UUP security spokesman and now Lord Drumglass, told Judge Smithwick today that he had never heard the claims despite having close links with the RUC and gardaí.
He said he believed the evidence from Mr Campbell and Mr Trimble.
“I, also, from my own experience, have not encountered any such allegations; therefore, I think that, somewhere in that document, there has been a misjudgement, a miscalculation, a loss of memory, or an inaccurate recall,” Lord Maginnis said under cross-examination.
“I don’t know what it is but I’m not here to judge that. I’m here to tell you the situation that it is.
“I’m telling you, having associated with David Trimble and David Campbell on a day-by-day basis, having been at the very heart of things, that is something I have never heard mooted, not even in casual conversation.”
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said evidence given to the tribunal by former IRA members had been “very comprehensive”.
“They were not minded to give evidence to the tribunal directly, which is their call, and I understand the disappointment of the tribunal on that score,” she said.