The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland has told Taoiseach that the government must “urgently” assist investigations into allegations of collusion between Irish government agencies and the IRA in a number of murders.
In a letter to Micheál Martin, Arlene Foster said “there are many unanswered questions regarding the role of the Irish state in arming and assisting the IRA in its terror campaign during the ‘problems’.
At the request of a meeting to discuss the issue, the DUP leader lists a number of incidents in which it is alleged that there was a collaboration between the Gardai and the IRA.
The letter, seen by RTÉ News and the Sunday Independent, also mentions the Smithwick court, which found that there was a collaboration in the murders of two RUC officers in southern Armagh in March 1989.
Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan were killed in an IRA ambush on their way back to Belfast after a meeting at Dundalk Garda station.
“The tribunal reported in December 2013 but so far no further action has been taken,” the letter said.
Mrs Foster referred to the issue of consensus raised last week when the British Government again rejected talks to set up a public inquiry into the murder of Belfast’s lawyer Pat Finucane.
“It is with this in mind that I wanted to outline some issues that are the responsibility of your administration and that your government can help with,” she says.
Mrs Foster refers to the families of the ten Protestant civilians killed by the IRA at Kingsmills in southern Armagh in January 1976, who have repeatedly called on the Irish Government to provide all documents that could help them seek justice.
“Despite meeting Foreign Minister Simon Coveney TD, who represents the former Irish government, nothing has come to light on this issue,” she said.
The letter also refers to the murder of Ian Sproule by the IRA outside his home in Castlederg in Co Tyrone in 1991.
In an attempt to justify the assassination, the IRA later showed a journalist Garda intelligence that it claimed he had been involved in a loyalist paramilitary attack in Co Donegal.
The murders of Judge Maurice Gibson of the Northern Ireland Supreme Court and his wife Lade Cecily in a bomb attack in South Armagh in April 1987 are also highlighted.
They were returning home from Dublin Airport after returning from a holiday in the United States when a car bomb exploded as their vehicle passed by.
Three Irish international rugby players traveling in the opposite direction on their way to a training session in Dublin were injured in the bombing.
The driver, Ulster Rugby captain Davy Irwin, pulled teammates Nigel Carr and Philip Rainey from the wreck. Carr’s injuries exclude him from the World Cup in New Zealand that year.
The DUP leader also mentions the narrow water massacre when 18 members of the British Parachute Regiment were killed in a double IRA bomb attack just outside Warrenpoint in August 1979.
The first minister thanks Taoiseach for his “swift condemnation” of last week’s tweet by Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley about the attack, which she described as “shameful” and said it “caused very significant crime in Northern Ireland”.
Her letter quoted Foreign Minister Simon Coveney in an interview with BBC Radio Ulster last month as saying: “There must be real recognition (for the victims) on the basis of the truth”.
It adds: “I fully agree and strongly believe that if your government wants to play its part in getting to the truth and thereby help reconciliation, it should try to help quickly in the above cases and provide the necessary documentation, as well as examine the recommendations of and the new evidence presented in the Smithwick Tribunal.
There are many unanswered questions regarding the role of the Irish state in arming and assisting the IRA in its terror campaign during the ‘unrest’ and there is no doubt that all of these issues need a re-examination if we are all to come to the truth about what happened in our common past. “
Arlene Foster says that “there are other horrific murders” where there are accusations of collaboration, and says that she wants to discuss the cases with Taoiseach in the near future.