REPUBLICANS were slammed for hypocrisy last night when it emerged that the IRA are "highly unlikely" to meet with the group tasked with examining Northern Ireland's troubled past.
Sources close to the IRA claimed that such a meeting was not likely to be on the cards because the Consultative Group on the Past – headed by former Church of Ireland Primate Lord Eames and ex-Northern Ireland Policing Board deputy chair Denis Bradley – was "set up" by the British Government, as were "its terms".
The group recently met with MI5 as part of its deliberations on a way forward and had hoped for discussions with the Provisional leadership.
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson told the News Letter that the IRA's response was no surprise: "Whilst republicans are constantly demanding inquiries and want to know the truth about events of the last 30 years, the secrecy of the IRA and their actions continues."
He warned that if republicans thought they "could get away with a one-sided process whereby everybody else is expected to come forward with information whilst they remain silent, then they have another think coming".
Mr Donaldson added: "I think that most reasonable people will conclude just what the republican movement is doing, which is trying to rewrite the history of the Troubles, and absolve themselves of any blame.
"Their failure to cooperate in any truth recovery process, never mind cooperate in bringing justice for the innocent victims of terrorism, proves just how lacking in reality they are, and how far they have yet to travel in terms of doing the honourable thing in helping their victims to get both truth and justice."
Ulster Unionist deputy leader Danny Kennedy said the news would probably come as a major blow to the Consultative Group, which was set up last June by the then Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain.
And Mr Kennedy said that it significantly reduced the body's capability to deliver a "rounded assessment" when they came to reporting back to the government this summer.
He continued: "I don't think it comes as a very big surprise that the IRA are not interested in dealing with the past because they have no credibility when it comes to this, as they are responsible for so many deaths.
"One presumes that they will want to continue to smother and hide their activities."
Traditional Unionist Voice MEP JIm Allister was equally unsurprised about the IRA's apparent unwillingness to talk to the Group.
"The IRA wants to expose everyone else's alleged wrong doings but resist the shining of the spotlight upon themselves," he said.
Mr Allister said he had a number of misgivings about the Consultative Group anyway.
"They seemed to be in the business of sanitising the IRA when they made this ludicrous suggestion that their operation was a war, and that there should be equivalence between terror and lawful forces.
"Any group that would be prepared to contemplate such a thing has already lost a lot of credibility with law abiding, right-minded people. So I think the group is already damaged."
He added: "It's typical of the IRA in that it's not do as they do, it's do as they say."
The full article contains 544 words and appears in News Letter newspaper.Last Updated: 25 February 2008 10:43 PM