UUP leader Doug Beattie calls on Dublin to give ‘full account’ of Taoiseach’s £8bn ‘collusion deal’ with IRA

UUP leader Doug Beattie has called on the Irish government to give a “full account” of “astonishing” claims that former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds secured £8bn of EU funds by using his influence to stop IRA attacks in Germany.

Friday, 17th September 2021, 4:00 am
Updated Friday, 17th September 2021, 6:44 pm

The claims have come to light in a new book, ‘Albert Reynolds: Risk taker for peace’ by former Fianna Fail minister and journalist Conor Lenihan, who also details his own role in peace talks in the 1990s.

Albert Reynolds TD, who was Taoiseach from 1992-94, is claimed to have secured key support for his EU funding bid from German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on the grounds that he would use his influence with the IRA to stop it attacking UK soldiers based in Germany.

The author said Reynolds believed the IRA was a threat to the Irish state.

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British Prime Minister John Major and Taoiseach and Fianna Fail leader Albert Reynolds give a press conference on the Joint Declaration outside 10 Downing Street in 1993.

In the book, Lenihan details talks at the 1992 European Council summit in Edinburgh when Reynolds launched his ambitious bid for EU funding.

“[German Chancellor] Helmut Kohl was the most influential political leader there,” Lenihan says.

“He told Reynolds that he had a problem which he needed to solve. British troops stationed in Germany were being attacked and he asked the Taoiseach if he could help stop it by speaking to the right people...Kohl told Reynolds he would support his bid for funds if he could give assistance, as a quid pro quo.”

Lenihan says Reynolds phoned an old friend who was a back channel link between the IRA and the British. Reynolds then brought his friend to meet Kohl, who in turn confided in Lenihan he was impressed with the Taoiseach’s promise to end the attacks.

“The German Chancellor went on to advise the Taoiseach that instead of looking for £6bn funding, he should ask for £8bn.  Reynolds did so and secured the full £8bn. It strengthened his position in Fianna Fail enormously.”

But UUP leader Doug Beattie said the claims were “astonishing”.

He added: “If true, why was the same influence not been used to end attacks against victims in Northern Ireland? It raises serious questions for the Dublin Government.”

“Dublin has been very quick in the past to demand all kinds of inquiries and information from London when claims are made about the role of the British Army and RUC during the Troubles.

“It is high time that Dublin reciprocated and gave a full account as to exactly what was agreed between Albert Reynolds’ administration and the EU and if £8 billion was indeed handed over by the EU with German support in return for Dublin pursuing influence to prevent IRA attacks on British servicemen in Germany.

“I have already raised the issue of legacy with the Taoiseach Michael Martin when I met him in Dublin in August as well as Tanaiste Leo Varadkar two weeks ago. I shall also be raising it with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney when I meet him on Friday.

“This latest claim comes a year after Fianna Fail TD Sean Haughey said that the IRA Chief of Staff in the early 1970s - Sean McStoifan - was a Garda agent and informer.

“We must look at this latest claim in the context of the pattern that developed during the Troubles, whereby for decades the Republic’s territory provided a safe haven for the IRA, a storehouse for huge amounts of illegal weaponry, terrorist training camps and a base from which to launch numerous attacks across the border into Northern Ireland resulting in the death and injury of many hundreds of UK citizens. And to that list we must add the refusal of successive Dublin Governments to extradite wanted terrorist suspects to the UK. When it comes to legacy matters it is very clear that the focus needs to be on Dublin as well as London.”

Innocent Victims United spokesman Kenny Donaldson said the Irish government should explain “why it would take £8bn for its Prime Minister to persuasively seek an end to the Provisional IRA’s deadly mainland European terrorist campaign?”

“Why would that State not have used all possible methods of ending the violence which saw the brutal murders of 15 innocents [in Europe] and the physical and psychological injury of hundreds of others?”

“Did any of the £8 billion windfall find its way into the hands of terrorists or its political or community-based annexes?”

“The Irish Government should be prepared (even at this late stage) to account for the full circumstances of the £8 billion received, it is a matter of public interest”.

The News Letter invited the Taoiseach, Irish Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Irish Department of Justice to respond to the comments from Mr Beattie and Mr Donaldson.

The DFA responded: “We will not be offering comment at this time”.

The News Letter also invited Sinn Fein and the SDLP to comment.

Sinn Fein offered no comment on the claims, but instead pointed out what it said was UK government collusion with loyalist terror groups.

The party said: “The mounting evidence of British government collusion with loyalist death squads is irrefutable and has been well documented by among others Britain’s most senior police officer Sir John Stevens who carried out three inquiries into the activities of loyalist death squads, state agents and their handlers following the disclosure of thousands of British state intelligence files by loyalist paramilitaries.”  

Commentator and author Malachi O’Doherty told the News Letter: “If this story is true, Reynolds exposed himself to being implicated in IRA operational decisions and to potentially owing them a return favour. The IRA had limited resources. A decision to draw back from attacks in Germany inevitably amounted to energies being directed elsewhere.

“Saying one target is not okay implies that another target is. And Kohl would surely have assumed that his request was untenable.”

Claims of collusion between the Irish state and the Provisional IRA go back to the very genesis of the Troubles. In 1993 former Irish Minister Neil Blaney told BBC journalist Peter Taylor in a documentary that his own cabinet had helped the fledgling Provisional IRA with support in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Blaney said: “We didn’t help to create them [PIRA] but we certainly would have accelerated by what assistance we could have given their emergence as a force.”

A range of key players from the IRA, Irish state and Sinn Fein gave Taylor almost identical accounts of how the Irish government help create the Provisional IRA.

In his book, a Secret History of the IRA, Ed Moloney told essentially the same story. He claimed the Irish government helped foment the creation of the Provisional IRA from the old IRA in 1969. He said the aim was to stifle the socialist threat of the old IRA, which it was feared would overthrow the Dublin government. Instead, it is claimed, the Irish state helped create a more green and nationalist IRA which would focus all violence north of the border.

Moloney wrote: “[Irish] cabinet papers of the day [1969] reveal that this was a policy agreed upon by all Taoiseach Jack Lynch’s ministers in April that year, long before the August riots [in Belfast, August 1969]. The papers show that the Department of Justice had recommended a policy of dividing the IRA’s rural conservatives from the urban radicals and that the cabinet endorsed this. Even so, the working out of the policy put Haughey and Blaney at the centre of the scheme, almost as if it was their private freelance plan.”

In 2012 the Assembly called on the Irish government to apologise for its alleged role in the emergence of the Provisional IRA. The motion was passed by 47 votes to 46.

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