Belfast Telegraph

Large intelligence cache kept hidden from investigation into collusion during Troubles, says Lord Stevens

Lord Stevens
Lord Stevens
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

A previously undisclosed intelligence cache was kept hidden from those investigating collusion during the Troubles, the BBC has revealed.

The documentary evidence was not made available to hundreds of reviews, investigations and inquiries into incidents that happened during the Troubles, the BBC has revealed.

Tonight's final episode of BBC NI's Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History, claims that the material, which was "discovered in the vaults" of MI5 and other clandestine agencies, was only partially disclosed or not shown at all to the Stevens Inquiry when investigations concerning collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and the State took place.

Lord John Stevens, the former head of Scotland Yard who led three investigations into security force collusion with loyalists, told the programme that he had become aware of some undisclosed documents.

However, Spotlight claims to have found evidence of even more.

Lord Stevens said his team held "something like a million documents - tons and tons of paper".

He added that there was a large cache of intelligence and documentation elsewhere in Derbyshire which he was never told about.

"That may well take this story further," Lord Stevens continued. "And if it does, it needs to be exposed."

The final episode in the series also explores the factors that brought the Troubles to a close.

Insiders describe how the military stalemate between the security forces and the IRA was broken by the peace process.

Spotlight reporter Darragh MacIntyre traces the resulting battle for control of the IRA that played out at extraordinary conventions in 1996 and 1997, the latter leading to a split and the creation of the dissident Real IRA.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern tells Spotlight that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were racing dissidents around Ireland to persuade IRA members to support the peace process.

The concluding 90-minute episode of the series also reveals new information about the disbandment of the Provisional IRA in 2005, 36 years after it had been formed and after claiming around 1,900 lives.

Dubliner Matt Treacy tells how he continued to recruit new members of the IRA until that summer when the IRA's Dublin Brigade was called to a meeting.

"The person who was sent down was a prominent member - had been a prominent member of the IRA," he said.

"He was on the Army Council as far as I know. (He) stated, 'That's it lads, it's over. It's finished. The IRA has been stood down. If you want to be involved in politics, join Sinn Fein. That's it'.

"People were nearly crying, and they were, 'What are we supposed to do?'

"He said, 'I just told you what to do - join Sinn Fein, get involved in your union, get involved in real politics. It's over, it's finished. There is no more IRA'."

The seven part series, encompassing eight hours of television, exposed a number of secrets of the Troubles, including exclusive footage of Martin McGuinness making a car bomb in 1972, MI5 interference in an investigation set up by the British and Irish governments, and a former Catholic priest's admission that he was involved in IRA bombing.

Following tonight's broadcast, a programme looking at the making of the series will be available to view on BBC iPlayer.

Spotlight on The Troubles: Behind The Scenes will also be shown on Thursday evening on BBC One NI at 9pm.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph