Sinn Féin's questionable treatment of victims and their attitude towards the search for the truth has been starkly highlighted in their reaction to the Smithwick Tribunal report.
Judge Peter Smithwick conducted a lengthy and exhaustive search for the truth about the IRA murder of two members of the RUC on their way from a meeting with the Gardaí in Dundalk.
Judge Smithwick did not shirk the difficult questions or soften the conclusions. During the process, in a bid to reach the truth, those involved in or associated with the murder were assured that they would be given immunity from prosecution and that their identities would be protected.
Yet this did not prove to be enough of a guarantee for the provisional republican movement who at the last minute refused to participate.
As if this refusal to help the victims’ families was not enough, the leader of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, then emerged to say that those RUC men who were shot dead had a ‘laissez faire disregard for their own personal security’ and ‘seemed to think that they were immune from attack’ and under those circumstances ‘what happened happens’.
This kind of crass and cruel disregard for the suffering of the families of the victims by the President of Sinn Féin will call into question that party’s treatment of all victims.
Sinn Féin claim they want a truth process, but when the provisional movement refused to engage with a process conducted by the Irish Government in which they were protected from prosecution, are we to expect more of the same from Sinn Féin?
The SDLP hope that this experience has taught the provisional movement that they must offer victims the truth that they require. We remain hopeful that the Haass process can deliver on this and we need all other parties to share in that hope.