Republican News · Thursday 28 September 2000

[An Phoblacht]

British cover up continues

The British government is desperately trying to prevent more details of its dirty war in Ireland being exposed in the media.

Last week the Sunday People became the latest, in an unprecedented line of newspapers and journalists, currently facing censorship and prosecution.

London's High Court slapped an injunction on the Sunday newspaper, at the behest of British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon. They had published details the British Army's involvement in the killing of a Catholic pensioner.

Francisco Notorantonio, a 66 year old retired West Belfast taxi driver, was killed in October 1987, when masked gunmen smashed their way into his Ballymurphy home and shot him as he lay in bed.

One of the men involved in the killing was wearing British army boots and a British Army map was found in the house after the shooting. This killing is just one in a line of many, in which collusion between British forces and loyalist death squads has been alleged.

Secret intelligence files from the British Army Headquarters in Lisburn were recently seized by the Steven's Inquiry team. The Steven's Inquiry, which was set up to investigate allegations of collusion, had received a tip off from a former Force Research Unit (FRU) agent, turned whistle-blower. The files suggest that Notorantonio was deliberately set up by the FRU to protect one of their informers.

Allegations of crown force collusion in the killing of nationalists and republicans have been surfacing since the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989. The UDA themselves added credence to these allegations, when they boasted that they had access to leaked British military intelligence files, providing details of their intended targets.

What is yet to be exposed, is the precise relationship between the FRU's actions and their political masters in the British government.

What is clear, is the enthusiasm with which that government is currently pursuing newspapers, journalists and other writers on Britain's secret counter-insurgency methods in Ireland. Earlier this year they even attracted criticism from the United Nation's Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression.

Tony Blair needs to prove that he means what he says when proclaming at this week's British Labour Party Conference, that ``I am listening...I hear...and I will act'' by ceasing the cover-ups and addressing the legacy of Britain's dirty war in Ireland.

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