Useful insight from Ed Moloney who discloses one of no doubt many secrets of the clandestine peace process. This one concerns the late Father Alec Reid, on the day the two corporals were murdered at Casement Park, and an interesting take on the collusion of the state in the ‘interests of the peace process’:
Knowing that the police would want to question him and that he if told the truth and identified the soldiers’ assailants his usefulness as an intermediary for Gerry Adams and the Provo peace camp would end, Reid approached a senior official in the Northern Ireland Office to explain his problem.
The NIO was well aware of the IRA’s slow journey towards constitutionalism by this point. Fr Reid had already been in touch with Tom King, the then NI Secretary to explain the process and to win his support for it while the most senior officials at the NIO had been assigned to work on it (similar advances had been made to Charles Haughey in Dublin and 1988 also saw Sinn Fein and the SDLP meet followed by the so-called Hume-Adams talks, encounters that were designed to disguise Haughey’s role in the process).
The peace process was actually very well advanced and everyone seemed to know it except the general public – and of course the Provo grassroots.
So, Reid explained his difficulty to the man at the NIO and soon contact was made with the RUC Chief Constable, Sir John Hermon and the order was quietly passed down: on no account should detectives investigating the corporals’ killings bring Fr Alec Reid in for questioning.
People who were involved in those two deaths – murders in the eyes of the State – escaped prosecution thanks to the NIO/RUC decision to put the infant peace process ahead of the needs of criminal justice. [Emphasis added]
Not an amnesty then, so much as a touch of collusion for the greater good?
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