Northern Ireland

Process on past should look at Irish government: Givan

Breen_&_Buchanan_murder_scene Image copyright Other
Image caption Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan were murdered in south Armagh

A DUP member has said any process for dealing with Northern Ireland's past should look at the actions of the Irish government.

Paul Givan was talking during an assembly debate on the findings of the Smithwick Tribunal.

Judge Peter Smithwick's found that there was Irish police collusion in the murders of two senior RUC officers in south Armagh in March 1989.

Ch Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were shot dead by the IRA.

They were on their way home from a meeting with Irish police in Dundalk.

"The fact that the political establishment in Dublin is shocked by the revelations I find shocking," Mr Givan said

"Any process (for dealing with past wrongdoing) must also look at the actions of the Irish government.

"This report should be the catalyst that brings forward the truth about the failings of the Irish government and its agencies, but ultimate responsibility lies with the Provisional IRA that carried out the cold-blooded murder of Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan and wreaked havoc for decades," Mr Givan added.

After the report was published, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said he was horrified by the findings.

However, he said he would never accept that officers valued loyalty to the force over the truth.

Mr Givan accused Mr Callinan of being in denial. He also criticised Sinn Féin who, he said, "sought to sabotage the efforts of this tribunal".

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said the DUP "need to realise that, if it is the truth that they are looking (for), then let it come on the basis of equality, on the basis of parity of esteem, on the basis of mutual respect.

"Let's get away from the hierarchy of victims, let's realise that, as an example, (murdered Belfast solicitor) Pat Finucane's family deserves your support as well as everybody else's."

The DUP motion called on the assembly "to express concern at the findings of the Smithwick Tribunal Report; calls on the Irish Government to take the necessary action to ensure that those responsible for criminal acts within their jurisdiction are brought to justice; and further calls upon the minister of justice and the chief constable of the PSNI to have urgent discussions with their counterparts in the Republic of Ireland to ensure that they take all practical steps to prevent any repeat of such atrocities".

'Shameful day for policing'

The SDLP's Alban Maginness proposed an amendment calling on the authorities on both sides of the border "to take the necessary action to ensure that those responsible for criminal acts within their jurisdictions are brought to justice".

He said the publication of the report was "a shameful day for policing in Ireland and in particular for An Garda Siochana".

However, he said there was also an "outstanding commitment" for an inquiry into the murder of Mr Finucane.

Stewart Dickson of Alliance welcomed "an absolute and unqualified apology" from the Irish government.

He spoke in favour of the motion and the SDLP amendment.

Image copyright bbc
Image caption Ch Supt Breen and Supt Buchanan were the most senior officers to be murdered in the Troubles

Mr Dickson noted that meetings had already taken place between the justice ministers, the chief constable and the Garda comissioner.

Justice Minister David Ford welcomed the opportunity afforded by the debate to discuss "some of the work being done now by the two departments and the two police forces".

He outlined some of these, including co-operation in tackling cross-border crime and secondments between the Garda and the PSNI

Mr Ford said there was "excellent co-operation" between the two forces.

The DUP motion was carried by 58 votes to 39, while the SDLP amendment was defeated.

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites