Belfast Telegraph

Bereaved families want answers

Editor's Viewpoint

After years of silence, one group of bereaved people - the relatives of those branded informers and shot dead by the IRA - are at last finding their voice. Eleven families are demanding answers from republicans on why their loved ones were murdered.

This will be yet another uncomfortable issue for Sinn Fein - which likes to portray itself as the party of peace-makers - to deal with.

And centre stage in at least one of those conversations with the bereaved is Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who has agreed to meet the daughter of Caroline Moreland, a 34-year-old mother-of-three abducted and shot dead by the IRA in 1994 for allegedly passing information to the security forces.

Her case was highlighted in a BBC NI Spotlight programme on Tuesday night and her daughter appealed to Martin McGuinness to meet her. It was claimed in the programme that he was a member of the IRA's Army Council at that time and that the Army Council would have to have sanctioned Caroline's death.

To his credit, Mr McGuinness, who denies being on the Army Council, says he is prepared to meet Caroline's daughter.

However, she does not look or sound like the type of person to be fobbed off with the usual republican answers. They invariably follow a formula that runs contrary to popular public belief and consist of denials that senior republicans had responsibility for any of the heinous crimes committed in the IRA's name or even any knowledge of those crimes. Caroline's murder was an even murkier crime as it was alleged that the man in charge of the unit that killed her was Freddie Scappaticci, the IRA's head of internal security and also the British Army's most highly placed informer, known as Stakeknife. He denies this allegation.

Whatever the truth of all these allegations, there is no doubt that it was a very dirty war in which few people emerged with clean hands. There is evidence that the State allowed informers to become involved in serious crimes - including murder - to protect their double lives.

Little wonder that families like that of Caroline Moreland want answers, and ultimately justice, by seeing their loved ones' killers in the dock. To paraphrase Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, these families haven't gone away, you know.

Belfast Telegraph


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