‘Republic’s government is no honest broker at NI talks’: victims group

The Irish foreign affairs minister Charlie Flanagan
The Irish foreign affairs minister Charlie Flanagan

A member of the Irish Republic’s government cannot be considered an “honest broker” in political progress talks affecting Northern Ireland, a leading victims group has claimed.

Following Gerry Adams’ call for NI Secretary James Brokenshire to step aside from chairing the talks as the UK Government “are not neutral arbitrators,” Innocent Victims United (IVU) said the inclusion of Republic foreign minister Charlie Flanagan was not acceptable to victims of IRA terrorism.

Discussions are taking place between Northern Ireland’s main political parties in an effort to have the devolved assembly restored following last week’s election.

The two largest parties – the DUP and Sinn Fein – have been at loggerheads with Sinn Fein saying they will refuse to nominate a deputy first minister if DUP leader Arlene Foster is put forward as first minister.

Mr Donaldson said the Republic’s track record on dealing with the IRA’s terror campaign meant Mr Flanagan’s involvement in the talks was not appropriate.

“The reality is that Charlie’s Flanagan’s role does not constitute ‘honest broker’ status. The RoI state has a significant vested interested in matters concerning the legacy of ‘the past’ which of course pollutes our present and threatens our future.

“Accountability remains elusive in respect of the Irish cabinet’s role in splitting PIRA off from OIRA (Official IRA) through the procuring of weaponry, provision of finance and training.”

Mr Donaldson added: “Accountability remains elusive in a plethora of unresolved murder cases carried out in south Armagh, Castlederg and south and west Fermanagh – where there is significant evidence and intelligence in existence which links collaborators working within the Irish Defence Forces with the Provisional IRA”.

The victims campaigner said the Irish state has “huge questions to answer” around a number of issues.

He said: “Innocent victims/survivors of collaborative terrorism committed by PIRA with the assistance of individual members of the Irish Defence Forces or Garda, as well as former members of that state’s government, must be given accountability.

“IVU acknowledges that just as was the case in NI/UK that the overwhelming majority of those who were in the security forces in RoI were honourable, committed servants of the state who sought to thwart terrorism and protect the community,”