‘Top securocrat’ backs plans to release secret records early…

IF – as has been claimed by Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness and Pat Doherty Joe Pilling was indeed Britain’s “top securocrat” in Stormont, then the NIO needs to review its employment procedures. We already know that Pilling helped secure the release of paramilitary prisoners in advance of IRA decommissioning. Now it transpires that the former Permanent Secretary was also on an official review panel which has recommended that confidential records from the National Archives be published after just 15 years, instead of 30 as at present. To play catch-up, the panel proposed releasing an additional year’s records each year from 2010. If accepted, this would mean that next year we’d get the records for 1980, as well as ’79. This would (hopefully) give an insight into Government discussions on ‘special category status’ for paramilitary prisoners, the Kincora paedophile scandal that enveloped the security services, some background on Government proposals for future political arrangements, British thinking on the 1980 hunger strike and Thatcher’s talks with Haughey. And that’s just year one. If the paranoids in SF are right, then Pilling must be the worst spook ever.

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