An Ulster Unionist has accused republicans of “a distortion of fact and history” in a new book claiming to reveal state collusion with a loyalist murder gang in south Armagh.
Newry and Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy was commenting on the publication of a book written by Anne Cadwallader from the Pat Finucane Centre which claims collusion reached systematic levels during some of the worst years of the Troubles.
“This publication blurs the lines between fact and fiction and fuels a narrative of the Troubles that republicans demand be accepted,” Mr Kennedy said. “People know the truth that the IRA were responsible for the majority of murders during the Troubles and they bear the greatest actual and moral responsibility for loss of life.
“I lived through this entire period in south Armagh and know full well the impact of the fear, intimidation and cost in human terms to the local Protestant/unionist community. This, and all other attempts by republicans to rewrite history and seek to absolve themselves, must be challenged as a distortion of both fact and history.”
The book, Lethal Allies – British Collusion in Ireland, uses Historical Enquiry Team reports to claim a number of then serving police officers and soldiers were part of a loyalist gang whose members were responsible for 120 murders between 1972 and 1976. One attack examined is the UVF Step Inn pub bombing in Keady in August 1976, which claimed the lives of mother-of-three Elizabeth McDonald, 38, and 22-year-old Gerard McGleenan. The book alleges RUC Special Branch was aware of the planned bomb attack 10 days before the incident but failed to move in.
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt MLA said Sinn Fein had several problems on the issue. While he says collusion was wrong, he recalled Gerry Kelly saying “he would do all he did all over again”. The other problem is that republicans call for a truth recovery process, he said, but Martin McGuinness told the Saville Inquiry there are aspects of his own past he will not disclose.
DUP victims’ spokesman, MP Jeffrey Donaldson, said: “Some of those commentating on the past seem blind to the fact that 90 per cent of murders in the Troubles were committed by paramilitaries. They want the spotlight on the other 10 per cent and shy away from placing blame at the door of those terrorists who planted the bombs or pulled the triggers.”