There appears to have been a shift in public attitudes in the 26 Counties following the broadcast of the documentary ‘Collusion’ by state broadcaster RTE this week.
The investigative documentary focused on attacks carried out by the Glenanne Gang, which included members of the British Army and the RUC police. They attacks perpetrated included the Step Inn, Keady, County Armagh and the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
It also looked at the murder of Pat Finucane, the activities of the Mount Vernon UVF gang and the overall history of Britain’s secret murder campaign in the north of Ireland.
Social networks and public discourse in the south of Ireland reflected a sharp increase in awareness of the issue of British war crimes in the north.
Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin called on the Dublin government to now support demands for an independent inquiry into the relationship between unionist paramilitary death squads and the official British state forces.
Mr Ó Caoláin said that collusion “was committed on a large scale and with impunity. There is clear evidence that points to collusion being not only practice but policy; it was planned and directed with full political authority”.
“The Taoiseach “has failed to hold the British government to account for their refusal to fully cooperate with the inquiry into Dublin/Monaghan. He has allowed the British government to walk away from their commitment into a public inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane.”
Yasmine Ahmed, Director of Rights Watch UK, said that the British government must now accept that nothing less than an independent investigation is required into the numerous allegations of collusion.
“For years Whitehall officials have claimed that they were not aware, nor had reason to be aware, of the dirty war that was being carried out in their name in Northern Ireland,” she said.
“The government has continually claimed this was the action of a few rogue individuals who were not directed or known to politicians in Whitehall.
“This is a fallacy. Not only did the UK Government know that it was happening but indirectly sanctioned it.”
Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said “it took 30 years” for RTE to make the programme.
“So for many citizens here it was their first real opportunity to see the reality of Britain’s dirty war in Ireland. The policy of state sponsored collusion between British state forces and unionist death squads was part and parcel of British policy.
“Successive Irish government’s failed to uphold the rights of hundreds of Irish citizens who were killed, or the thousands more who were injured, imprisoned or tortured, as a consequence of British policy.”
In response, Tanaiste Joan Burton admitted that British collusion with loyalist paramilitaries in all kinds of illegal activity -- including murder -- was ‘endemic’.
She said the coalition government continued to work for “investigations” -- but that such investigations must include the IRA.
MALLON INQUEST ENDS
Meanwhile, an investigation into the UVF murder of pensioner Roseanne Mallon has unearthed nine pointers that reinforce suspicions of British collusion in the killing, a court has heard.
During his final submissions in the long-running case, Barry McDonald QC said in the Mallon family’s view “there were state forces at work here in both the events leading up to the murder and the events that followed”.
Ms Mallon was shot through the living room window of her sister-in-law’s Co Tyrone home in May 1994.
Military spying equipment was later found in a field near the Mallon bungalow on Cullenrammer Road at the edge of Dungannon - a discovery that first sparked claims of Crown force collusion.
Among other allegations, counsel for the Mallon family outlined the facts that video tapes from the secret camera had disappeared; no finger-prints were available from bullets retrieved from the murder scene; police journals had been destroyed; and police intelligence was wilfully not shared with the murder investigation team.
On top of this, a shadowy Special Branch-run forensic team called the Weapons and Explosives Research Centre was behind serious errors made in respect of ballistic evidence that would have hindered any genuine investigation.
Kevin Rooney QC, a lawyer for the PSNI and British Ministry of Defence acknowledged there were “frailties and shortcomings” in the investigation of the murder but rejected collusion allegations. But the Crown’s legal team has continued to apply for a public interest immunity certificate (secrecy order) in respect of newly released materials relevant to the case.
Justice Weir told the court he would deliver a reserved verdict at a later date.