Loyalist leader backs amnesty
Loyalist leader backs amnesty

UDA ‘brigadier’ Jackie McDonald has said an all-inclusive amnesty is needed to allow loyalists to tell the truth their actions in the conflict.

The UDA leader believes such a move would create “the conversation that answers the questions” about collusion and unresolved killings.

“You can’t cherry pick an amnesty,” he said. “It has to be all-inclusive,” he added -- meaning stretching across the loyalist and republican organisations and Crown forces.

“The people who did the killing, they were doing what they were told,” he said.

“...You couldn’t let the IRA be seen as this elite, invincible force. You had to show that they were vulnerable.”

McDonald is part of the so-called ‘inner council’ leadership of an organisation that carried out scores of sectarian killings under the cover of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) .

“A lot of people will be furious,” he said.

“But what do you do?

“If you want a future, the past is an anchor.”

He said the price for information would be high.

“If you want to know there has to be a compromise -- that the person talking to you cannot be made amenable for it,” he said.

“We need the victims groups to sit down with the perpetrators,” he said.

“I don’t know how you do that -- it’s like oil and water.

“(But) that’s the conversation that answers the questions.

“It has to be a warts and all conversation.”

Earlier this week it emerged that proposals advanced by a British-appointed panel on “drawing a line under the past” had been overwhelmingly rejected.

The rejections were revealed in responses to proposals put forward by the Consultative Group on the Past, headed by Robin Eames and Denis Bradley.

Sinn Fein Assembly member Raymond McCartney has said an international truth recovery process is needed in the North to deal with the legacy of the conflict.

Commenting on the publication of the responses to the Eames/Bradley commission, he expressed concern that its purpose was to allow the British government “an excuse to park this issue”.

He also said finding consensus should not be a prerequisite.

“The reality is that you will not get a consensus on dealing with the past amongst political parties, primarily because the future is still contested. To seek such a consensus and elevate it to the status of a precondition to dealing with the past is at best naive.

“What we are clearly saying, and we have been saying this consistently for years, what is required is an international truth recovery mechanism which examines the causes and consequences of the conflict and which is independent of the state, combatant groups, political parties, civic society and economic interests. That is the only way to ensure maximum confidence and maximum participation,” he said.

Former Sinn Fein strategist said this week that the British government had more to hide from a truth process than anyone else.

He has publicly admitted that he was a member of the IRA and served a jail term, but his conviction was later quashed on appeal. No reason was given on grounds of ‘national [British] security’.

He believes he was set up for arrest by the agent known as ‘Stakeknife’ -- working for the British Army inside the IRA’s internal security department.

“Publish the Stevens Inquiry on collusion -- 2,983 pages of which have been suppressed -- and then maybe we can talk about honesty and truth,” Mr Morrison told the Belfast Telegraph this week.

On the question of information recovery, he said he did not believe that the British Government would be “an honest contributor to such a process were such a process established”.

“My criticism is that whilst republicans and loyalists, either individually or as organisations, have shown a great degree of honesty and have tried to establish the truth or, understandably, a variety of ‘truths’, that type of honesty is not forthcoming from the British Government, which, in my opinion, has more to hide than any other protagonist to the conflict,” Morrison said.

“From grassroots to leadership, local people in the North belonging to proscribed organisations went to prison,” he added.

“Republicans more than loyalists, loyalists more than the British intelligence agencies, which manipulated mainly them, but also through infiltration, republicans.”

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has said an international body such as the UN must establish a process on the past, and if that were to happen then he would participate and would encourage other republicans to do so.

“Read a book like Caroline Elkins’s Britain’s Gulag about what the British Army did in Kenya in my lifetime and you will understand who fears the truth most -- the British Government, protecting its imperialist history,” Morrison claimed.

“They will never participate in an honest truth process.”

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