A Fermanagh man whose brother was murdered by an IRA gang which fled across the border will next week ask the Irish Prime Minister why only “a token effort” was made to stop such attacks.
A delegation of victims of terrorism from Co Fermanagh, led by Stormont minister Arlene Foster, will meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin on Tuesday to press for an apology for what they see as a failure by the Irish government to stop the IRA using the Republic as a Troubles safe haven.
A first such ground-breaking meeting took place last month when victims of the 1976 Kingsmills massacre in south Armagh met Mr Kenny and asked him to apologise for the same alleged Irish government failures. Leading their delegation, MLA Danny Kennedy said they had “some disappointment” when Mr Kenny responded that he could not apologise for IRA actions.
The leaders of the Enniskillen are emphasising that they do not expect Mr Kenny to answer for IRA atrocities, but rather the Republic’s failures to bring IRA killers to book.
Derrygonnelly man Robin Ferguson told the News Letter about his brother Alan, murdered in 1978 by an IRA gang which fled across the border.
“The attack was only two kms away from the border,” Robin said. “The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) report says that tracker dogs and troops tracked those responsible and that they went across the border.
“I will tell Mr Kenny that my family carry Alan’s death around inside us every day. I will ask him if this was murder or not? Because if it was, then why were people like these released so easily in the Republic and why did the Irish government refuse to extradite them, leaving them free to commit so many murders along the border? Were some of the suspects released in the Republic because they were fighting some ‘great war’?
“If they had not carried out such murders I believe there could have been a united Ireland. But murders like these divided people and set their cause back by at least two generations.
“There was pure ethnic cleansing right on the spot where Alan was murdered. In the six years up to his death three Protestant families were intimidated out so they could run free for two kms to reach the border in that area. One Protestant man was shot dead and another two families were intimidated out. One family had their house blown up so they could not come back.
“My mother is 89 and carries Alan’s murder with her every day. She is far more of a soldier than those who murdered Alan will ever be.”
Lisnaskea-based victims’ group South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) is helping organise the trip. Spokesman Kenny Donaldson said: “We are not asking for the Irish government to apologise for the actions of the IRA. We are pressing for a formal acknowledgment that it ‘failed to protect life within border communities’. Between 1973 and 1997 the Republic refused 93 per cent of terrorist-related extradition requests.”
Fermanagh and South Tyrone DUP MLA Mrs Foster said: “It is not the actions of those terrorists that Enda Kenny must address, but the absence of any effective security to the south of Co Fermanagh. Questions constantly emerge from the Irish Republic, including from Mr Kenny, his party, and the Irish government about the actions of the security forces in Northern Ireland. If Mr Kenny is prepared to ask those questions of the United Kingdom as another sovereign country then he should be prepared to answer them on behalf of his own country.”
A spokesman for the Taoiseach confirmed the meeting on Tuesday but declined to comment on Mrs Foster’s statement.