On the vexing question of collusion…

Few people believe that there was no collusion between security forces and various actors within the paramilitary organisations. The Pat Finucane Centre has now compiled a report it has commissioned into 25 cases – most of which were linked to a number of loyalists known as the ‘Glenanne group’ and focused on the mid-Ulster and border areas between 1972 and 1977. According to the Irish News, “in all but one of the cases they said that they found evidence pointing to collusion by members of the RUC and UDR”. The report published a series of interesting recommendations:

• establishment of an independent investigation into allegations of collusion in murders and attempted murders by loyalists, which can identify those involved and examine not just possible RUC and UDR involvement but also that of British army and intelligence agencies

• investigations into murders carried out by republican groups

• loyalist and republican paramilitary groups should fully cooperate with official investigations into collusion

• the findings of all investigations should be published, including those by the HET which at present plans only to share its findings with victims’ families

• the state should publicly acknowledge its responsibility in sectarian killings where collusion is established

• public apologies from senior officials to the families of victims of collusion.

The focus seems to be on bringing the state to book for at least some of its covert actions, with an appeal to paramilitaries to co-operate. Given the unwillingness of any of the paramilitaries across the piste to come clean on any details of their actions, it is probably the only practical way for much of this dirty washing to be aired in public. Nevertheless, it is also likely to give rise to some very uneven outcomes.