A victims’ campaigner has accused the Irish foreign minister of “gross hypocrisy” for a blistering attack on the UK’s dealings with the past which fails to acknowledge Dublin’s own role in the Troubles.
Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United, was speaking after Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan gave an extended speech to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg about Northern Ireland. The Dublin minister noted that it was now a year since the Stormont House Agreement (SHA) had been signed.
“It is deeply regrettable that in the time since there has been little visible progress with establishing the legacy institutions provided for under the 2014 Stormont House Agreement,” he said in recent days.
“The Irish government shares the deep disappointment and frustration of victims and survivors of the Troubles, from all communities, who have had to wait for far too long for access to truth and justice.”
In a 1,200 word statement the minister slammed the UK for using national security as a reason not to open up archives and failing to set up the Historical Inquiries Unit (HIU); demanded more resources and a dedicated unit to handle legacy inquests in Belfast, and recommended a public inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.
But Mr Donaldson desribed the minister’s intervention as “a case of gross hypocrisy”.
He added: “The RoI state has proven itself to be partisan in its approach to the past. In many ways the long-standing attitude prevails – ‘it’s all the Brits’ fault’.
“The RoI state has shown little interest in providing accountability around its own role throughout the Troubles.“
He described the Irish state as one which stands “four square behind those justice and truth campaigns which allege wrongdoing by the UK state” including Ballymurphy, Loughinisland, Bloody Sunday and the ‘Hooded Men’.
“But where has its public pronouncements been concerning the innocent victims of PIRA terrorism? Where has it displayed courage and transparency around its’ own role over the years of the Troubles?” he asked.
IVU has met many UK ministers recently on the issues and is seeking a meeting with Mr Flanagan, he said. And he called for “a recalibration of resources” in light of the fact that 90% of Troubles murders are attributable to terrorists and 10%of deaths to the UK state.
The Irish government has issued many similar attcks on the UK in recent years. As usual the UK Government responded graciously with no direct criticism. A UK Government spokesman said it is committed to “full and faithful implementation” of the SHA, including the legacy institutions, and is working to achieve consensus among political parties, the Executive and victims’ groups to implement it.
“However, success or failure does not rest on the UK Government alone,” he said. “It will not hinge on a national security ‘veto’ which is a simplistic characterisation failing to recognise that the UK Government has agreed to disclose all relevant material it holds to the HIU.”
Kenny Donaldson said that the Republic of Ireland has shown itself to be:
:: A state which provided safe haven for terrorists and terror suspects.
:: Assisted in the arming, financing and training of PIRA.
:: Has a disgraceful record of extradition requests for terror suspects.
:: At times displayed a laissez-faire attitude towards border security.
:: Had a number of individual members of the security forces who collaborated with PIRA terrorists and who have not been held accountable.”
Other victims point out that Dublin has failed to provide any significant information to the Kingsmills massacre legacy inquest.
The News Letter invited the Irish Departments of Taoiseach and Foriegn Affairs to comment over several days last week, however they declined to do so.