Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

SF can't accept any other version of war

Our exclusive revelations yesterday of the Historical Enquiries Team's conclusions about the Loughgall killings raises major questions about the attitude of republicans to such reports.

The Loughall report, to be published later, concludes that it was the IRA which opened fire, and that the SAS were within their rights to shoot dead those who were attacking them.

This runs contrary to the republican version, which has claimed that the SAS opened fire first, as part of a shoot-to-kill policy.

Not surprisingly, Sinn Fein has rejected the latest HET findings. Their MLA Barry McIlduff continues to claim that the Loughgall deaths were indeed part of a shoot-to-kill policy.

Independent observers will conclude, however, that Sinn Fein cannot continue to accept those HET reports which appear to back their point of view, while rejecting the findings of others with which they disagree.

The Loughgall report indicates that the IRA team was intent on murder, and its members paid the full price. If an armed republican fires first, the SAS are entitled to retaliate in self defence.

The HET has proved itself effective and objective in dealing with evidence based on its investigations. It has an extremely difficult job, and the last thing which the HET - and the general public - needs is for others to cherry-pick its conclusions.

Republicans are quick to claim that Provisionals jailed for terrorism have been "prisoners of war", and have demanded the protection of civil law and human rights legislation.

However, when republicans are guilty of heinous crimes, they have claimed that "bad things happen in war, and every death is to be regretted".

These attitudes have always struck peace-loving people in both communities as republican hypocrisy. No doubt there will be further outrage expressed at the latest HET findings on the Enniskillen bomb, which suggests the Provos intended deliberately to place unarmed civilians at risk.

It is time that the republican movement stopped trying to have everything both ways. That attitude is simply not credible in the new Northern Ireland.

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