Irish Republican News · December 19, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]

Blair hides from truth; Ahern announces inquiry

Pressure is mounting on the British government to release the findings of Judge Peter Cory's probes into cases of British Crown force collusion in murders carried out by loyalist paramilitaries.

On Thursday, the Dublin government released reports on allegations against members of the security forces in the 26 Counties. However, the reports on the most serious allegations of systematic and institutional collusion in the North are still being withheld by the British.

Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory investigated some of the most controversial killings in the North, the murders of defences lawyer Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson and of Portadown Catholic Robert Hamill. It is understood he is calling for a public inquiry into all three, as well as the deaths of loyalist leader Billy Wright inside Long Kesh prison in 1997 and the IRA killings of RUC chiefs Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan in 1989.

While the report on the IRA killings was published on Wednesday in Dublin, the families of the other victims are still in the dark.

Judge Cory said: ``Failure to publish the report would be a breech of the Weston Park agreement of both governments [in which the report was commissioned] and could have unfortunate consequences for the peace process.''

Nationalist politicians and human rights groups have warned that the British government may find another excuse to delay publication and the inevitable public inquiry.

In a statement, five human rights groups - Amnesty International, British Irish Rights Watch, the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), Human Rights Watch and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights - said the delay in publication was causing distress to the families concerned.

Paul O'Connor, project coordinator of the Pat Finucane Centre for Human Rights, said: ``Tony Blair's actions indicate that he has fallen into the trap of other prime ministers: he is afraid to face up to his own security forces.''

Jane Winter, director of British Irish Rights Watch, said: ``I don't think the British ever expected in their worst nightmares that Judge Cory would recommend four public inquiries. I think they are running around like headless chickens trying to do a damage limitation exercise.''

She added that by delaying, Mr Blair ``has made it look as if he has something to hide''.


The British and Irish governments have insisted they have not fallen out over the Cory report, but Tony Blair has been strongly criticised by nationalists for his failure to publish the findings.

The SDLP leader, Mark Durkan, said that after meeting Mr Blair this week he was convinced the British PM wanted ``to bury the truth''.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams accused Blair of ``long fingering'' the Cory report.

At a Downing Street meeting on Wednesday. Mr Adams and a party delegation failed to get commitments from the British government that the report's findings would be published soon.

``The question has to be asked - and we put this to Mr Blair - why? We did not get any explanation at all.''

Sinn Féin also raised the issue of the Barron report into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings -- published last week and ``Judge Barron's indictment of the British government for refusing to co-operate with his inquiry''.

``Mr Blair promised to come back to us on that issue. But I think there is a connection between the two issues,'' Mr Adams said.

``The issue of collusion which Cory was dealing with and the issue of collusion which Barron was dealing with, I think that is the common connection.

``Mr Blair needs to tackle this issue. At the time of Weston Park we objected to the decision to go for this approach (a judicial report) as we thought the families campaign or demand for a full public independent judicial inquiry should have been accepted.

``Judge Cory in fairness to him has completed his report more quickly than many other inquiries and now we find it is being long fingered again.''

According to Mr Adams, the only explanation for this is that the agencies which were responsible for collusion are still in a position of influence.


Meanwhile, Dublin's Minister for Justice has insisted that the IRA and Sinn Féin should co-operate with a public inquiry into the deaths of the RUC officers, announced on Thursday.

Michael McDowell said yesterday that the ``so-called Republican Movement'' faced a simple choice.

``Do they expect others to cooperate fully with all of the Cory inquiries? If so, do they intend cooperating in like manner with the Breen and Buchanan inquiry? That is the issue for the so-called Republican Movement to answer clearly,'' he said.

Sinn Féin's policing and justice spokesman Gerry Kelly said people should help the probes ``if there is state collusion''.

But at a press conference in Belfast he said the British government must publish the four reports it has received from Mr Justice Cory.

Mr Kelly said the IRA had accepted their responsibility for the deaths of the two RUC officers. ``The difference is that we are dealing with state attacks and state agencies actually being involved in violence and they have not accepted their responsibility for that.''

Mr Kelly said the British government ``must stop stalling on inquiries into the killings in which British state agencies were involved.''

``Judge Cory has reported yet we are now witnessing further delays, excuses and stalling,'' he said. ``The families involved are entitled to the truth.''

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© 2003 Irish Republican News