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31 January 2008 Edition

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Irish state assisted collusion cover-up

Following many months of prevarication, the Irish Government this week finally allowed the Dáil to discuss the issue of British state collusion in a string of violent attacks in the 26 Counties.
Bertie Ahern promised a Dáil debate on collusion following the publication of the McEntee report on the investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974. The McEntee report was published in April 2007 but the promised debate was never held during the 29th Dáil.
The nature of the debate that was finally acceded to this week has been criticised by Sinn Féin mainly because there is no proposal for action of any sort, but also because the title of the debate fails to mention the word collusion at all.
The McEntee and Barron reports and the reports of the Joint Oireachtas Committee dealt with murderous attacks in the 26 Counties involving British state collusion with unionist paramilitaries.
Any attempt now by the 26 County political establishment to obscure that reality is an insult to the victims of those attacks and can only add further to the pain and grief of their families.
Throughout the course of the recent conflict, the Dublin government and its legal system became a mere adjunct to British counter insurgency strategies. The political establishment turned a blind eye to collusion and British agents operated at a high level and with apparent impunity within the Garda. Collaboration with the RUC was rife when that sectarian militia was brutalising nationalists in the Six Counties and political prisoners were extradited to face the corrupt Diplock Court system.
The failure of the 26 authorities to properly investigate the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, as highlighted in the McEntee report, amounts to a cover-up of collusion.
The British Government has refused to establish a full, independent, public judicial inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane as called for by an All-Party Dáil motion nearly two years ago. It persists in proposing a flawed form of inquiry under the effective control of a British minister. The British are still protecting their agents who directed collusion with unionist paramilitaries. They have refused the demand of the Oireachtas for an inquiry.
But the Irish Government’s case in calling for a full inquiry by the British has been undermined not only by its own failure to establish collusion inquiries but also its own similar Tribunals of Inquiry Bill.
Sinn Féin has this week repeated the demand for a special Irish-British summit meeting to deal with the collusion issue. Bertie Ahern should seek access to all the relevant material, in the possession of the British Government, relating to acts of collusion in the 26 Counties and he should demand that the British finally come clean on all acts of collusion, North and South, and on the  fact that collusion with unionist paramilitaries was pursued as a matter of official state policy throughout the course of the conflict. Meanwhile the search for truth and justice will continue.

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