VIDEO: Peter Robinson: IRA carried out ‘genocide’ in Fermanagh
Published: 6 Feb 2014 15:000 comments
In a frank interview with TheDetail.tv, as part of the website’s special investigation into the legacy of the Troubles, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party has said it was the IRA’s “intention to remove a section of the population who happened to be protestant, unionist, loyalist, away from the Border areas of Fermanagh”.
Mr Robinson has revealed how several protestants from Fermanagh had met with him and the then party leader Ian Paisley during the Troubles to express concerns about their safety only to have been later murdered by the IRA.
“This was genocide, this was ethnic cleansing, this was sectarianism,” said Mr Robinson.
The First Minister stated that it was a campaign by the IRA “that anybody would consider to be a war crime”.
“Yet how much talk is there about that when people are talking about themes?” he asked.
“They want to talk about collusion, they want to talk about shoot-to-kill - they don’t want to talk about genocide, they don’t want to talk about ethnic-cleansing.”
“I remember in the early part of the Troubles meeting a group [who had] came to see Doctor Paisley and myself at the then headquarters on the Albert Bridge Road. The room was full of those men who were concerned about their safety in the area of County Fermanagh. That group of men, when we next met, there were no more than three people in the room - all the rest had been killed by the Provisional IRA,” he said.
“This isn’t some small thing,” added Mr Robinson, “This has been a planned and concerted attempt to wipe out a section of the community along the Border.”
Meanwhile, a Lisnaskea victims lobby group is at the centre of a political row between Mr Robinson and the Irish government over the legacy of the Troubles.
Kenny Donaldson of South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) said the Irish government also had to account for Border security down through the decades.
“Security and extradition policies were never really developed to actually, firstly intervene to prevent the problem, but certainly then to either combat terrorism, or, the other end of it, to actually hold people accountable for their actions.”
The SEFF group has researched the extradition of republican suspects from the Republic to Northern Ireland.
Following inquiries by The Detail, officials at Westminster said records for the actual number of extradition requests are not retained by central government.
But from the data available, they could confirm that: “In the period between 1973 and 1997, at least 110 requests were made to the Republic of Ireland from the UK. At least 42 people were arrested and eight were extradited back to the UK.”
A House of Commons debate on extradition in 1982 provided some information on the reasons for decisions.
It detailed 45 refusals to extradite and found that in 34 cases this was because the offence was political, while in nine cases it was because there was no comparable offence in the Republic.
It was said that 17 extraditions fell because the suspects were eventually arrested in the UK and one was arrested and jailed in the Republic.
The Irish government became embroiled in a number of high profile extradition rows during the Troubles, but it defended the right of its legal system to maintain its own integrity.
The Irish government declined to be interviewed, but in a defence of the record of the State, Micheál Martin of opposition party Fianna Fáil said it was not culpable for IRA crimes.
Mr Martin said: “While there may be some who believe there is merit in presenting successive Irish Governments as facilitators for the horrific violence in Northern Ireland, it serves only a narrow and negative agenda and it is just not true.”
He said he shared the pain and anger felt over IRA violence, but he said inaccuracies about the past should not be allowed to “undermine the hard won trust and improved north-south relations”.
The Detail’s video reports examining the legacy of the Northern Ireland Troubles are available to watch on www.thedetail.tv.