Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Pat Finucane Centre wrong to smear RUC

UUP MLA Doug Beattie
UUP MLA Doug Beattie

Editor's Viewpoint

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie is right to challenge the Pat Finucane Centre for its description of a terrorist attack on a Co Armagh bar in 1976 as "an RUC gun and bomb attack".

It is true that three of those involved in throwing a bomb into the bar and firing shots which wounded one person were members of the RUC, but this was a terrorist incident conceived and carried out by the Glenanne Gang. Those involved were, as Mr Beattie said, "terrorists, nothing more, nothing less".

The Pat Finucane Centre was guilty of using those terrorists' membership of the RUC to suggest that somehow the force was behind the attack.

As Mr Beattie says, that is a "sickening and abhorrent" attempt to smear the RUC.

It cannot be denied that a small number of RUC officers crossed the line during the Troubles - as in this case - but that does not merit blackening the name of the entire force where many men and women died protecting society from terrorists of all hues.

Those who engaged in murderous conspiracies with terrorists disgraced themselves and the force in which they served.

They also cast a shadow on their fellow officers. One would imagine that an organisation named after a lawyer Pat Finucane, who was murdered as a result of collusion between loyalist terrorists and state forces as outlined in the da Silva report, would be more careful in its use of language.

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There are some like Mr Beattie who wonder if smears like this are an attempt to rewrite history.

Only the terrorists stand to gain when blame for incidents are wrongly attributed. The actions of a few should not be used to tarnish the reputation of the many.

The Pat Finucane Centre has been keen to expose collusion between loyalists and members of state forces and has produced several instances. But it has been remarkably reticent about suggesting collusion between republicans and those same forces.

Yet we know from previous and ongoing investigations some republicans were not immune from working with police or Army contacts on a regular basis. That too is a fact of history during what was a very dirty conflict, but which republicans try hard to ignore.

Terrorism from whatever source deserves to be highlighted and condemned, but it must be substantiated by facts rather than slanted versions of the truth.

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