The Irish government will not be able to evade scrutiny on issues such as its role in the creation of the IRA, as and when legacy bodies are rolled out, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said.
The Lagan Valley DUP MP was speaking after Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan launched a blistering string of criticisms on how he sees the UK is failing to deal with the past, in particular under the Stormont House Agreement (SHA).
But Mr Donaldson has now challenged Dublin that it too must be accountable for its past, based on the very same agreement that it too signed.
“The SHA proposes the establishment of a Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) with full police powers to reinvestigate unsolved murders connected with the Troubles,” the MP said.
“Since some 90% of these murders were committed by terrorists, many of whom operated on both sides of the border, it is difficult to see how this can be construed as merely the responsibility of the UK Government.”
Under the SHA, Dublin has agreed to disclose any relevant information, such as that held on murders carried out from the south or where killers fled back into the south, he said.
One such example would be the IRA bomb attacks at Narrow Water – the worst attack on the British Army of the Troubles – where the killers were based in Co Louth.
He also cited paragraph 39 of the SHA which details how Dublin is fully accountable to the proposed HIU: ‘The necessary arrangements will be put in place to ensure the HIU has the full co-operation of all relevant Irish authorities, including disclosure of information and documentation. This will include arrangements for cooperation between criminal investigation agencies in both jurisdictions and arrangements for obtaining evidence for use in court proceedings. Where additional legislation is required, it will be brought forward by the Irish government.’
Dublin has also signed an international cooperation agreement, he said, which obliges it to work with the Independent Commission for Information Retrieval (ICIR). Paragraph 45 of the SHA says that the ICIR will be free and empowered to seek information equally from both jurisdictions, he added.
Citing paragraph 31 of the SHA, he added that there is to be a “streamlining” of legacy inquests that he expects will place “a clear responsibility” on the UK and Dublin to fully comply with investigations into cases which compromised individuals’ ‘right to life’.
This means Dublin will be required to provide all relevant information to legacy inquests in a timely manner, which he notes families of the ongoing Kingsmills massacre “have every right to expect”.
He added: “In terms of the genesis of the IRA, the failings of the Irish state on extradition and alleged collusion by Irish state authorities, these most certainly will be addressed when examining themes that emerge from the work of the HIU and other legacy bodies.”
Paragraph 51 of the SHA shows this will be the work of the Implementation and Reconciliation Group (IRG) which all relevant information should be passed to, he added.
Charlie Flanagan last week slammed the UK for using national security to veto the disclosure of sensitive information and for failing to set up the HIU under the SHA. He also demanded the UK provide more resources and a dedicated unit to handle legacy inquests and recommended a public inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane. Since then, victims have been angered that the DFA has repeatedly refused to respond to their concerns about what they see as his one-sided approach. But Mr Donaldson said the DUP “will not allow” the Troubles narrative to become one-sided, noting that terrorists committed 90% of murders and that republicans were responsible for two-thirds of those deaths. The role of the Irish state on security cooperation, extradition or alleged collusion “will be a focus that cannot be avoided or evaded” under the SHA, he added.