Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

'Lethal Allies' - Uncomfortable truth on state collusion must be faced up to'

One of the cases which the ‘Lethal Allies’ looks at was the 1976 UVF bomb at the Step Inn bar in Keady, Co Armagh
One of the cases which the ‘Lethal Allies’ looks at was the 1976 UVF bomb at the Step Inn bar in Keady, Co Armagh

On Monday I attended the launch of Anne Cadwallader’s book ‘Lethal Allies’ in Derry.

As one of the youngest MLAs in Stormont I don’t have a personal memory of most of the incidents detailed in the book but it doesn’t make it any less shocking.

The SDLP worked hard for a new phase in policing in Northern Ireland and Anne Cadwallader’s book really brings home the level of corruption and collusion that existed in the RUC. It is difficult to comprehend how members of a police force could be part of a gang that killed 120 people.

Yet this is exactly what occurred. There are many victims who cannot move on without the full truth, however painful, of what happened to their loved ones. In the cases of collusion victims must suffer the extra pain of realising that those people in their community who were tasked to protect and serve them were also responsible, directly and indirectly depending on the case, of murder.

Many of those victims, detailed in ‘Lethal Allies’ were targeted not because they were involved in the IRA but because they were Catholics who were working to improve their communities and their own lives by being associated with the civil rights movement, being involved in the SDLP, or buying property and developing businesses.

Others were more randomly targeted. The silence from many unionist politicians and the denials from many others in the face of incontrovertible evidence are unfortunately not surprising.

Yet, if we are going to build a future together everyone needs to face up to all of the truth of the past. As my colleague Mark Durkan said in Westminster last week, if we do not have the truth about the dirty war, we will be settling for a dirty peace.

All the victims of our troubled past and their families deserve truth and justice. No politician should stand in the way of that no matter how uncomfortable that truth is.