Information from previously undisclosed documents has been retrieved from MI5 vaults for the final episode of the BBC Spotlight ‘Secret History’ series being screened tonight.
According to the programme makers, the “treasure trove” of documentary evidence was not made available for hundreds of reviews of Troubles cases being revisited by various investigations and inquiries over the years.
Tonight’s final instalment of Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History features interviews with former head of Scotland Yard Lord Stevens, who led three investigations into allegations that security forces colluded with loyalist terrorists.
Lord Stevens said his team held “something like a million documents” amounting to “tons and tons of paper”.
He said: “But there was a large cache of intelligence and documentation elsewhere in Derbyshire which we had never seen.
“No one has ever told us about it. That may well take this story further. And if it does, it needs to be exposed.”
The episode also explores the factors that brought the Troubles to a close – and how the republican battle for control of the IRA in the mid-1990s resulted in a split and the creation of the dissident ‘Real IRA’.
Former Irish premier Bertie Ahern also spoke to Spotlight – revealing how Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were involved in a frantic race with dissidents to visit as many IRA members as possible and persuade them to support the peace process.
Mr Ahern said the dissidents were “worrying us because they were working very hard and they were having success,” and added: “They were a serious threat to the Martin and Gerry project at that stage.”
The 90-minute concluding episode – on BBC One NI and BBC Four at 8.30pm – hears from Dubliner Matt Treacy who tells journalist Darragh MacIntyre that he continued to recruit new members of the IRA until the summer of 2005 when the IRA’s Dublin brigade was called to a meeting.
“The person who was sent down was a prominent member – had been a prominent member of the IRA.
“He was on the Army Council as far as I know. (He) stated ‘that’s it lads, it’s over. It’s finished.
“‘The IRA has been stood down’,” Mr Treacy said.
Following tonight’s broadcast, the entire series will be available as a box set for up to a year on BBC iPlayer.