Methodist minister Rev Harold Good has insisted he will never divulge any details of terrorist decommissioning – and has defended the integrity of the process.
Together with Fr Alec Reid and Canadian general John De Chastelain, Rev Good oversaw weapons decommissioning by all the main terror groups in the wake of the Good Friday Agreement.
In Tuesday’s Irish News, Rev Good told how he got involved in witnessing the process, and the challenges convincing “cynical and suspicious” unionists that decommissioning had indeed happened.
But his comments had not in any way compromised his commitment to keep the process confidential, he said.
“What I said at the time and consistently since then was that I would not discuss or divulge the details of the decommissioning process,” he told the News Letter. “Nor have I – in this article nor in any other interview or book. Nor will I.”
However, his interview prompted some people to claim that not all weapons were decommissioned.
UUP MLA Doug Beattie said the decommissioning story was a reminder of our recent past that must never be repeated.
He said: “Firstly there is confirmation that not all the guns were handed in as part of the decommissioning process.”
And he added: “Today, too many communities are still blighted by armed gangs claiming some kind of political justification for their existence.”
Ken Funston, advocacy services manager with victims’ group the South East Fermanagh Foundation, suggested that journalists should talk to the IRA about the process.
“All Provo weapons with a ‘history’ were destroyed, as were all those incapable of firing,” he said. “However, many of those without ‘history’ and which were operational were retained, some to resurface in the hands of dissidents and criminals, others have been used since decommissioning by the Provos for ‘internal house-keeping’.”
Similarly, a senior security source said details of the decommissioning of Official IRA weapons, as reported by the Irish News, “should not be taken to be reflective of the process” by which the International Commission certified the decommissioning of PIRA weapons.
However, Rev Good said the inventory of weapons handed in was a close match to lists from the Irish and UK governments.
“We do know that there were some dissidents that kept weapons,” he said. “But not a shot has been fired from the Provisional camp since.”