Belfast Telegraph

The IRA isn't interested in truth, it wants information

Atrocities like Teebane reveal the double standard in republican calls for a truth commission, says Alan Murray

The demand from the DUP MLA Trevor Clarke for republicans to literally name names to help bring to justice the IRA members who perpetrated the Teebane Massacre goes to the kernel of the issue of a so-called 'truth commission'.

Some of those who demand its creation suggest that it would enable us to understand how the Troubles erupted onto the streets as if somehow multitudes are hopelessly groping in the dark still trying to fathom how and why it all began.

Republicans see the establishment of such a cash-gobbling body as a possible opportunity to probe the guilty secrets of the British during the 'dirty war', as Gerry Adams once called it, and presumably identify some British perpetrators hitherto unmasked.

For Trevor Clarke's wife, Linda, whose younger brother, Nigel, was killed in the Teebane atrocity 20 years ago this week, no amount of academic discourse on how the Troubles started will bring the answers she wants.

The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) probed Teebane, distributed its report and the relatives remain little the wiser over the key question they and many other bereaved relatives want answered - principally, who did it.

Maybe Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness could answer their questions, or introduce former comrades who could provide the answers; undoubtedly they could, as the late Brendan Hughes and others have credibly suggested.

They might tell the relatives that, had there not been fog on the morning of the attack, the IRA would have detonated the roadside bomb on the journey to work killing all on board the works' van. But then the families already know that.

The IRA which still functions as a dormant military entity is hardly likely to impart the information that Linda Clarke and the other relatives of the Teebane victims and the relatives of others killed at the hands of the IRA want.

What relatives seek is not a truth commission talking-shop, but the prosecution of those who perpetrated Teebane and Kingsmill and Darkley, to name but a few. What the IRA essentially wants is more information about those who acted against them both without, but more importantly within.

The garnering of more information on those issues is a primary part of the organisation's current raison d'etre.

There remain many unidentified individuals within the ranks of the IRA who provided crucial information about the plans of the organisation over the last 40 years - information that saved countless lives, led to numerous IRA members going to jail and ultimately caused the inability of the organisation to function at a sufficient level to win the 'war'.

Some security force agents within the IRA are dead - their secrets taken to their graves.

Some were given IRA funerals, borne in honour by former comrades oblivious to their deeds for their British paymasters. Those are the 'truths' the IRA seeks, not the 'truths' that Linda Clarke and other relatives seek.

Gerry Adams once obligingly placed in the public domain the pertinent information that the IRA 'hadn't gone away you know', so there undoubtedly endures within an existing management structure the means of eliciting the information that the Teebane, Kingsmill and Darkley relatives seek.

But such information is unlikely ever to emerge from the bowels of the intelligence-gathering IRA of today.

The Historical Enquiries Team does not divulge the sources of information presented to it, but never has the IRA offered to engage with the HET.

The IRA could provide information that would yield the identities of those involved in different atrocities and individual acts of slaughter, but only the gullible would expect that to happen.

As with the HET's investigation into the bombing of Claudy 20 years earlier, the IRA offered no insight to events at Teebane - yet it continues to demand probes of its choosing into the past.

It is little wonder that many relatives of the bereaved feel short-changed by the peace process.

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