When he was first minister of Northern Ireland, David Trimble challenged Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to hold a public inquiry into Irish state collusion in creating and resourcing the Provisional IRA.
“There is reason to believe the Irish government/Fianna Fail made approaches to northern nationalists/IRA to form a northern command and separate from its Marxist attacks on the Irish state,” Mr Trimble said while in office. “PIRA came out of that with standing orders saying there were to be no attacks on the Republic of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland government kept its side of the deal for some time.”
He asked Mr Ahern for an inquiry but the Taoiseach refused.
Peter Taylor’s ‘Sparks That Lit the Bonfire’ BBC documentary came to the same conclusions as Mr Trimble in 1993, with leading republicans, Irish intelligence officer Captain James Kelly and Irish politicians speaking at length.
Ed Moloney in his acclaimed book, the secret History of the IRA, says recently released papers show that it was the Irish Cabinet and Department of Justice who decided to create the Provisional IRA, but that Ministers Charlie Haughey and Neil Blaney ended up in the dock because they put the policy into action.
His book examines the allegation that Captain Kelly, Blaney and Haughey conspired to split the Official IRA to neutralise the politically radical and increasingly violent Dublin leadership, while creating an instrument in Northern Ireland that could be controlled by Fianna Fail.
“Cabinet papers of the day that have recently been published acquit Haughey of this particular charge; they reveal that this was a policy agreed upon by all Taoiseach Jack Lynch’s ministers in April that year, long before the August riots [in Belfast, 1969]. The papers show that the Department of Justice had recommended a policy of dividing the IRA’s rural conservatives from the urban radical and that the cabinet endorsed this. Even so, the working out of the policy put Haughey and Blaney at the centre of the scheme, almost as if it was their private freelance plan.”
Similar concerns were shared among Bogside republicans in the late 1960s, according to journalist Eamon McCann.
He was invited to a state-run training camp for republican paramilitaries in Donegal in 1969, he said.
“During that period elements of the Dublin government and military intelligence were sussing out things north of the border and were offering to take people across the border to train them with arms,” he told the News Letter. “There was considerable debate in the Bogside that if the offer was accepted it would be compromising. It was said that an offer like that from the Fianna Fail government could not be taken without putting ourselves under their control.”