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Sunday, 24 November 2013
FEAR OF THE TRUTH THAT WILL SET US FREE
We know things that could undermine Northern Ireland peace process, say retired police officers
Former US diplomat Richard Haass is chairing talks on dealing with contentious parades, flags and other issues in Northern Ireland
BY LIAM CLARKE – 19 NOVEMBER 2013 Retired police officers have warned they could be forced to reveal information which would undermine the peace process during any truth commission into Northern Ireland's past.
The warning from The Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers' Association (NIRPOA) came in a 64-page submission to the Haass Commission for dealing with the past.
The submission makes it clear that the body represents officers who have been involved in what was known as the "shoot to kill" policy, a term they reject, and it is also known to represent many retired Special Branch officers.
Yesterday, Dr Haass returned to Belfast for another round of talks about flags, parading and the Troubles' legacy.
He insisted that an end-of-year deadline for political talks to resolve the divisive issues in Northern Ireland is "doable and desirable".
The document from the NIRPOA, seen by the Belfast Telegraph, states: "Our association does not support the concept of a 'truth commission' as the circumstances in which such tools have previously been used have been completely different.
"Nor do we have any confidence that anyone other than our members would actually tell the truth. Some of the truths which our members might reveal may not be considered to be helpful to the political or 'peace' process" the document states.
This is understood to be a reference to potential embarrassment to leading politicians, in Sinn Fein and other parties, if the intelligence records are opened. This, some of the officers believe, could destabilise the Executive.
The document calls for a reduction in the number of public inquiries but makes one exception. It calls for Troubles-era inquests into deaths caused by the security forces to be rolled into a single "review of all the relevant cases, taken as a whole".
This would provide "fully-funded independent and individual legal advice for any former members of the security forces who may be required to give evidence".
It estimates that, if we hold individual inquests, the backlog would take 20 years to clear and warns that many police officers who would be required to give evidence are old and frail.
It adds that many officers who were involved in alleged shoot to kill incidents were part of a few highly trained units and such incidents could be best tackled through a single process.
The submission says that any officer found guilty of wrongdoing should be prosecuted and rejects any notion of an amnesty, either of paramilitaries or members of the security forces who may be prosecuted. It adds: "Our association holds no brief for any police officer, serving or retired, who may have committed criminal offences, whether in relation to the performance of his or her duty or otherwise."
There are signs of anger and frustration with the present system of inquests inquiries which, NIRPOA argues, "facilitate, often at public expense, a continual campaign of baseless denigration of the members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, including very many of our members".
It also attacks the Historical Enquiries Team and the Police Ombudsman for having allegedly employed some "staff who are poorly equipped for their work in terms of training and experience and leaders who have frequently demonstrated flawed judgment, resulting in injustice for many of our members".
It states: "In relation to the past, our principle concern is that there will be no attempt to rewrite history in a way which seeks to imply some sort of moral equivalence between the police (and other elements of the security forces) and the terrorists.
"In relation to the future, our principle concern is that our members will be able to live out their lives in dignity and privacy, with appropriate care being provided for those with physical or mental problems which are attributable to their public service."
seenitallbefore77p· 13 hours ago look,lets have the truth,the whole truth and nothing but the truth. you cannot change what happened yesterday,as tomorrow never comes........ Report Reply
Seamus0997p· 19 hours ago If the NIRPOA have information that could undermine the peace process, that means they have and are concealing it. So what is new about the deception, lying and the dishonestly of this branch of the OO/UVF? Report Reply
Yahoe_Yahboyee108p· 4 days ago So if you come after us then we'll bring down the peace process. Nice Report Reply7 replies · active 19 hours ago +14
flagless202095p· 20 hours ago While there were many honourable people in the RUC and British army doing their best in a desperate situation, it serves nobody and especially not the peace process to cover up and deny the fact that the system was broken and fatally compromised by British Intelligence. By supplying arms and intelligence to loyalists, by operating covert murder gangs who terrorised catholics in the guise of the MRF, by reserving lethal force for dealing with Republicans while taking (at best) a more judicial approach to loyalists, by targeting defence solicitors for assassination, by setting up a military unit 'the FRU' to coordinate collusion and more specifically by the use of Brian Nelson controlling the targetting of the UDA which itself was legal, by tolerating if not encouraging dual membership of loyalist paramilitaries and the UDR, they drove catholics in their thousands into the arms of the Provos. For many a point came where the state was seen as sinister corrupt and ir-reformable and lead with tragic consequences to the conclusion for some that the only option was it's violent overthrow. Moderate anti-violent catholics lived in despair as they lost their youths to the hatred engendered by these programmes and those on the other side who wanted a peaceful future, including in many cases security force members that weren't privy to or part of the covert war, were marginalized and betrayed by the setting aside of democratic and legal norms. To acknowledge all of this would not threaten but instead strengthen the peace process as everyone knows the bulk of the truth anyway and are capable of forgiveness, it is the continued denial of the truth that locks people in the past. All sides have a duty to this society to admit their mistakes instead of denying or justifying them. That includes the Provisionals, for their actions too deeply damaged this society and only added to its tearing apart. Denying their complicity in the Kingsmills slaying of protestant workers after an act of trying to protect their catholic workmate from what they thought were loyalist gunmen is but one heart breaking example of the ultimate futility and hopelessness of their strategy to 'unite us'. We all lost the plot and should just bloody well admit it! Report Reply
boland100p· 4 days ago This group of ex branch men are as arrogant now as they were on duty. Report Reply2 replies · active 1 day ago -5
Woburn_exile85p· 4 days ago The very people who whine about truth commissions et al are those who have a long history in showing disrespect to all due legal processes. The brave men and women who put their lives on the line on a daily basis don't need a truth commission, the brave men and women who fed the security forces intelligence about the forces of terror and crime certainly don't need a truth examination body or some such thing. To all those who whine about the past my message is GET A LIFE. The world does not care about your past. Report Reply18 replies · active 2 days ago +9
InErnest102p· 4 days ago None of this raking up the past is helpful to the peace process! Those politicians calling loudest for 'dealing with the past' are those who seem unwilling to deal with the present or future. I hope not, but I fear the Haass talks will be a glorified finger pointing exercise. Report Reply1 reply · active 3 days ago +5
SMCTIME87p· 4 days ago I'd like to see the crooked ex-special branch boys have to answer for themselves, while taking down Sinn Fein while they're at it. The peace process will survive without them, it's not like we all don't know what they were up to. Report Reply
nallyterrace82p· 4 days ago "In relation to the past, our principle concern is that there will be no attempt to rewrite history in a way which seeks to imply some sort of moral equivalence between the police (and other elements of the security forces) and the terrorists."
Sorry guys, you cannot have your cake and eat it. The gunning down of civilians on Bloody Sunday was just as despicable an act as any gunning down of civilians by paramilitary groups. The members of the security forces who informed and equipped the gunmen who shot people down are just as bad as those who pulled the trigger.
You cannot seek to be seen as the upholder of law and order if you actively subvert their most fundamental principles for some intangible sense of the greater good. That is after all the stuff of terrorism - the idea that going against law and order can be justified by a greater good.
If there was nothing to be ashamed of, if the security forces are so assured that the illegal activities they partook could not in any way be seen as equivalent to paramilitary violence. . .then why all the lies? Why the murky web of falsities, half-truths and limp justifications? Report Reply
corgie102p· 4 days ago The " Into the dark " book by a retired RUC detective exposed the dirty work of the Special Branch of the RUC. Now we see the RUC retired officers threatening anyone who would dare to tell the truth. Once again we are reminded why the RUC were put out to pasture! Report Reply
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neilharland76p· 4 days ago No surprise the RUC special branch don't wish to talk. They took great pleasure in turning kids into robots and MKultra style experiments all sanctioned by her Royal highness, leaving a trail behind them. And lots of them have lined their pockets at the expense of the victims still struggling to get their own accounts heard and acknowledged. Report Reply
Surenah97p· 4 days ago Of those killed by British security forces: 187 (~51.5%) were civilians 145 (~39.9%) were members of republican paramilitaries 18 (~4.9%) were members of loyalist paramilitaries 13 (~3.5%) were fellow members of the British security forces
Of those killed by republican paramilitaries: 1080 (~52%) were members of the British security forces 728 (~35%) were civilians 187 (~9%) were members of republican paramilitaries 56 (~2.7%) were members of loyalist paramilitaries 10 (~0.4%) were members of the Irish security forces
Of those killed by loyalist paramilitaries: 868 (~85.4%) were civilians 93 (~9%) were members of loyalist paramilitaries 41 (~4%) were members of republican paramilitaries 14 (~1.3%) were members of the British security forces
Where do we begin? Report Reply8 replies · active 4 days ago +5
whatabouteryrules75p· 4 days ago Those unhappy people who seek the truth are victims , and are seeking closure from injustice. Every man, woman and child resident in Northern Ireland for the past 50 yrs is a victim. Sadly, the real cancer is in the bellies of those who feel victimised by the failure of the legal system, and the forces of law and order, to punish savagely the evildoers. These unlucky people have suffered agonies of hurt, many for several decades. It does not matter if their lost ones were innocent victims, or blood crazed psychopaths. In their eyes THEY are the real victims and their minds and judgement are unhinged by grief. An old testament eye-for-an-eye style retribution is demanded. THEY should realise that no words, no amount of tribunals or trials or truth forums will heal their wounds. The biggest watershed moment during the last hundred years in this country was the release of the prisoners, and this can be matched only by families and groups ceasing to clamour for retribution for past atrocities. The truly evil ones are without shame and shall never be punished as they deserve. A new watershed is needed, a new line drawn in the sand. Report Reply
Chrisdoh97p· 4 days ago Do you call the UVF or the UDA brave men, as it was them who worked in collusion with the RUC and the BA, in the murdering of catholics Report Reply2 replies · active 4 days ago +8
jj148884p· 4 days ago 'Shoot to kill policy' the Police didn't do a very good job if this was an actual policy, the so called troubles could have been over alot sooner if the Police had adhered to this shoot to kill policy, just saying. Report Reply1 reply · active 4 days ago +16
justplainmad106p· 4 days ago Let the truth be known; it's the least we can do to bring a sense of justice to the victims and their loved ones. Report Reply
Vinegar_Hill57p· 4 days ago I totally see their point. How can we trust certain elements to admit uncomfortable truths - Gerry Adams won't even admit to being in the IRA despite the proverbial dogs in the street knowing otherwise!! There is no way we could trust the Republican movement to be honest unless politically expedient. Perhaps when they admit the full truth about the Disappeared (the location of remaining bodies for example) and when Adams finally admit his membership then we can talk business. I suspect calls for a truth commission are a fig leaf anyway - are the Sinn Fein leadership happy for the identities of all the informers within the IRA to be made public? I suspect if they were made public, a few more people would be getting Disappeared, and if certain allegations are to be believed, that includes some fairly prominent figures! Effect on the peace process of Republicans discovering their leadership who sold them the ceasefire are working for MI5? Report