Irish government’s turn to answer difficult questions about its past?

The News Letter today has a big splash on the Smithwick Tribunal (that’s the one the Irish government previously threatened to wind up just about now)… As Philip Bradfield notes, the taoiseach, Enda Kenny has been a hard man for Unionist representatives to pin down on any matter regarding alleged collusion between the IRA and Irish state forces:

Until Mr Kennedy was able to approach the Taoiseach in person at the North-South Ministerial Council in Armagh on Friday, the UUP minister had been trying for months to get the Irish leader to engage.

He goes on to quote Danny Kennedy on the matter:

Apologies have been made by the British government for numerous cases but the Irish government cannot escape their responsibility, specifically when they are making noises about other [collusion] cases [in Northern Ireland].”

Then Bradfield remarks:

The unionists are saying that with every UK statutory investigation into Troubles related deaths, the history of the Troubles is being rewritten to portray British forces as the primary cause of bloodshed. But they point out that the IRA claimed significantly more lives than any other organisation during the Troubles — 1,778 in total — and that a much more balanced historical examination is critical to properly make peace with the past.

Solicitor John McBurney, the solicitor acting on behalf of RUC relatives at Smithwick:

…said that two issues that had to be brought out into the open were the Irish state’s frequent refusal to extradite IRA members for “the most heinous crimes” in Northern Ireland and the failure of the Garda to supply intelligence on the IRA to the RUC.

“I suspect there was much intelligence never shared in a timely fashion with the RUC,” he said. “Those who carried out the Kingsmills massacre went to ground in the Republic.” He said the Garda knew “quite a lot” about the individuals involved and “quite a lot was discovered” about their links to Kingsmills.

“But the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team report on Kingsmills never once mentions any Garda intelligence on those responsible. Why is that?”

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty