Kenny rejects that government could have done more to halt IRA

Published: 14 Nov 2013 14:000 comments

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has dismissed unionist allegations that the Irish government could have done more to stop the activities of the IRA in Border areas like Fermanagh during the Troubles.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the service on Sunday morning in St. Macartin's Cathedral, Enniskillen, with Minister Arlene Foster (left) and Secretary of State Teresa Villiers (right).

Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott is calling on the Irish Prime Minister to not only “acknowledge” that the government could have acted to thwart the IRA but to apologise “for not doing so”.

“There were occasions when the IRA fired at homes and farms from across the Border. You only have to look at areas like Garrison, Newtownbutler and Rosslea where there were murders committed and there is no doubt that those responsible escaped across the Border.”

“The Irish government could have had a better security force present and could have been more helpful in extraditing people back over the Border,” he said.

The Fermanagh-south Tyrone MLA who spoke to the Taoiseach about the issue when he visited Enniskillen on Remembrance Sunday wants him to acknowledge this was the case.

Mr Elliott said the Taoiseach told him that his government is awaiting the outcome of the Smithwick Tribunal set up to examine allegations of Garda collusion in the 1989 murders of Superintendent Bob Buchanan and Chief Superintendent Harry Breen, from Kinawley. “Once Enda Kenny has acknowledged that they could have done more during the Troubles then it would be useful for him to publicly say the Irish government was sorry, like Prime Minister David Cameron has done in the past,” he said.

But when questioned by this newspaper about the issue on Sunday the Taoiseach rejected the claims.

“I would remind you as I did unionist members that the jails in the Republic were filled with IRA activists and people who were involved in terrorist activities; they were absolutely filled and there wasn’t any occasion that I can recall where people were knowingly allowed to do what you say.”

He added: “Things are very different now in terms of communications and access to information and the sharing of that information and the level of co-operation between the PSNI and Garda Síochána is at an all time high.”

Mr Elliott says he intends to discuss the role of the Irish government during the Troubles as part of the all-party talks with Dr. Richard Haass, something the Taoiseach has already done.

“I met with Dr Haass and I expect he will make his recommendations before Christmas. We have also discussed this with the First and Deputy First Minister. Obviously he [Dr. Haass] can only make recommendations in respect of the past and it is a matter for the parties to engage themselves but the government will be very supportive of efforts to move this on,” he said.

Back in September, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore hinted that the Irish government was prepared to investigate the allegations during a speech at the British-Irish Association conference in Cambridge. Mr Gilmore addressed a unionist “perception” of a failure by Irish governments to combat the IRA.

“We need to acknowledge those unionists who feel that, notwithstanding the sacrifices made by members of An Garda Síochána and the Irish Army throughout the Troubles, the Irish State could have done more to prevent the IRA’s murderous activities in Border areas,” he said.

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