MLAs back call for governments to probe collusion

The Assembly has passed a motion calling on the British and Irish governments to fulfil obligations under human rights laws to provide effective investigations into claims of state collusion in terrorist murders.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 9:24 pm
DUP MLA Diane Dodds
DUP MLA Diane Dodds

The motion also noted “deep concern” over the failure to make progress on investigating the case of Ian Sproule, who was murdered in 1991 by the IRA in Castlederg, and reiterated opposition to plans by the British government to introduce a statute of limitations for prosecutions for Troubles offences in Northern Ireland.

A motion had been brought by the DUP which raised concern over “the longstanding failure of the Gardai Ombudsman to commission an investigation in the case of Ian Sproule” and condemned the “longstanding failure” by government and police oversight bodies in the Republic of Ireland “to address substantive allegations of collusion”.

But an Alliance Party amendment was introduced which called on both the UK and Irish governments to “exchange, urgently, information integral to legacy investigations”.

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Introducing the original motion, DUP MLA Diane Dodds referred MLAs to the murder of Mr Sproule in 1991.

She said: “For many years I have advocated on behalf of the Sproule family, as they seek answers about a brother who was murdered by the PIRA as a result of collusion with the garda in Donegal.

“Officialdom in Dublin has talked about the truth but failed to deliver the answers. Dublin has manufactured reasons not to help the Sproule family.

“Dublin has behaved like a spectator and lectured us all about dealing with the Troubles yet failing to see their own shortcomings.”

Mrs Dodds continued: “This motion is about bringing the Irish government to book for its failures to address the minority of cases where there is alleged collusion by members of the Garda.

“It is not about taking the focus from where it belongs, on those who pulled the trigger and planted the bomb.

“I hope that all of those who support the basic principle of justice will do so again today.”

The amendment by Alliance Party MLA Paula Bradshaw was carried by 49 votes to 39.

Ms Bradshaw said: “Alliance’s amendment was an attempt to ensure the motion enjoyed unanimous consent in the Assembly, which I believe is essential for the Sproule family and others.

“The UK government’s plans to address the legacy of the past by introducing a statute of limitations are unacceptable and are opposed by all the Assembly parties.

“I pay tribute to the campaigners in the case of Ian Sproule.

“While it is not for this Assembly to direct how authorities in a different jurisdiction should ensure a case is progressed, seeking a fair and proportionate investigation regardless of the jurisdiction in which the offence was committed is important and correct.”