The Belfast Telegraph is reporting that at the meeting of government ministers from Northern Ireland and the RoI in Armagh, Arlene Kelly and Danny Kennedy presented Enda Kenny with details of more than 150 republican murders in border areas during the Troubles. They have called on the RoI government to apologise for the fact that the IRA killers were able to escape across the border following these murders.
Mrs. Kelly said:
…that they should remind the Irish Government of today that we certainly feel that the Irish government of the ’70s and indeed of the late ’60s, could have done a lot more to stop the campaign of genocide that was happening in Fermanagh, Tyrone, South Armagh and indeed Londonderry as well.
DUP leader Peter Robinson was also at the Armagh meeting. Asked if Mr Kenny had gone too far in pledging to lobby for the Finucane family, Mr Robinson said he accepted the Finucanes and many other families had suffered the loss of a loved one.
There is a feeling that there is some hierarchy of victims. So while of course people will have every sympathy for Mrs Finucane, I extend my sympathy also to all of those thousands of people who have lost loved ones, who never had an inquiry, who never had anyone going to Europe or going to America to raise their case, and they are just as important for me.
DUP junior minister Jonathan Bell was more forthright in his comments on the DUP website. After saying that Edna Kenny had clearly every right to support the Finucane family (Kenny has pledged to lobby internationally on behalf of the Finucane family over the enquiry into Pat Finucane’s death). Mr. Bell noted:
Mr Kenny should also recognise that his own government is not in a position to lecture the people of the United Kingdom on how to deal with the past. In the early days of the Troubles, the Republic of Ireland became a safe haven for republican terrorists. Indeed, extradition proved impossible on numerous occasions. Despite this, only one public enquiry has ever been set up by the Republic of Ireland into the past. Most notably, only a few months ago Mr. Kenny’s government moved to curtail the length of that enquiry.
With such a chequered past, the Republic of Ireland should be more careful when making wide-ranging comments about the past. It bodes ill for any representative of the Irish Republic to lecture the United Kingdom government on it’s obligations in examining past events.