MEP slams Taoiseach on Garda-IRA collusion

A DUP MEP has issued a blistering attack on outgoing taoiseach Enda Kenny over Dublin's perceived indifference to claims of alleged Garda collusion in IRA murders.

In particular, she was highlighting the case of Castlederg man Ian Sproule, 23, who was murdered in 1991.

The IRA justified the shooting by handing a Garda intelligence file it used to target him to a Derry Journal reporter. It claimed that he had planted firebombs in Co Donegal - which his family rejects.

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Mr Sproule’s brother John has been pressing for a meeting with Mr Kenny for three years but last night Diane Dodds MEP slammed Dublin’s refusal to engage with him - and others with similar cases.

“For the families of innocent victims of IRA terror, claims that the Irish state played a role in the deaths of their loved ones continue to persist unanswered,” she said.

In 2012 former Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy was grilled at the Smithwick Tribunal for failing to volunteer that he carried out a major probe into suspected collusion in Mr Sproule’s murder.

The senior garda’s investigations in 1991 only came to light at the tribunal as a result of evidence from a former RUC Deputy Assistant Chief Constable – Witness 68.

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He had written a report which claimed a number of garda stations in Co Donegal were helping the IRA.

Mrs Dodds told the News Letter last night that any new government formed in the Republic must engage consistently and honestly with innocent victims of terrorism in Northern Ireland on allegations of Irish state collusion.

She made the remarks after discussing Mr Sproule’s case with the Irish Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU, Ambassador Tom Hanney.

“Outgoing taoiseach Enda Kenny has refused to meet the Sproule family to discuss these claims,” she said. “The family have also been denied access to the findings of the internal Garda investigation that took place in the immediacy of Ian’s death. These are failings on a large scale, but sadly this is not an isolated story.”

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She added: “It is high time that the Irish state end this neglect and get real serious about addressing these allegations.”

The Republic’s Department of Justice responded that the murder “caused untold grief” and that “every sympathy” is conveyed to the Sproule family.

Claims about the Garda file on Mr Sproule being used by the IRA had been probed but “no evidence was uncovered to support the allegation”.

It also noted that Judge Smithwick made no findings in respect of the case.

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There has been “no new information” but should any come to attention “it will be investigated to a conclusion”.

It hoped that if the Stormont House Agreement is implemented it will “assist further in providing families with avenues to address outstanding questions”, it added.

Mr Sproule’s brother John welcomed the recognition by the Irish authorities that Ian’s murder continues to impact his family “each and every day of our lives”.

He added: “His death severely affected all the family, in particular our late mother who never got over the loss of her son, and died of a broken heart.

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“Following Ian’s murder, Sinn Fein/IRA released a confidential Garda document containing Ian’s photograph and personal details.

“We want to know how and from whom the IRA acquired this document, and believe an independent review of the leak from the Garda to the IRA is essential.”

Trevor Clarke of Derg Valley Victims’ Voice said the ex-RUC officer told the Smithwick Tribunal he was satisfied “beyond doubt that there was a leak from the Garda to the IRA”.

This constitutes fresh evidence which demands a new investigation, he added.

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