Donaldson: “No doubt the people of the Republic will continue to shun those who seek to make excuses for cold-blooded murder”

Pretty hard hitting op ed from Jeffrey Donaldson in the Irish Times today

The IRA and their cheerleaders like to style themselves as an army, yet it is worth recording again the circumstances of the deaths of these two brave men. Bob Buchanan attempted to drive the car they were travelling in out of danger but the vehicle got stuck in a ditch. He was shot in the driver’s seat.

Mr Breen got out of the car, put his hands in the air and attempted to surrender. He was shot to death. Soldiers in an army don’t shoot people trying to surrender. It is also worthy of note that the IRA failed to co-operate fully with the tribunal. They withheld vital information and lied about the collusion.

So much for calls by Gerry Adams and other republicans for a truth process.

On police accountability going forward…

Levels of police accountability and scrutiny throughout these islands have increased. The PSNI, for example, is one of the most heavily scrutinised police forces in the world. This is why the conclusion that a culture of loyalty being more valued than honesty still exists within the Garda should worry all citizens in the Republic. In the context of the murder of innocent people, all who are interested in finding out the truth should be concerned to see this culture examined and its out-workings explored fully. We need to know if there was further such collusion and why the leadership of the Garda Síochána failed to address it when they had evidence presented to them by their own officers. Never before has Juvenal’s old maxim, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? – who guards the guards? – seemed more appropriate.

On political expediency…

One of the reasons why Margaret Thatcher signed up to the Anglo Irish Agreement was to tighten security along the Border. Judge Smithwick has since confirmed that political expediency meant it was decided to dismiss the connection between the IRA and the Garda in the murders of these two senior RUC officers. Authorities on both sides of the Border may have had a vested interest in denying the collusion of Garda officers with the IRA. For the then UK government it would have meant conceding that the agreement had failed in its stated aim, while for the Dublin government it would have meant admitting collusion with a criminal terrorist organisation. The consequence of this expediency was to deny the Breen and Buchanan families the truth for a quarter of a century.

On where we are now…

I welcome the fact that senior Ministers in the Republic of Ireland, as well as the Garda Commissioner have been clear in accepting the findings of Judge Smithwick and expressed their abhorrence at the circumstances that led to the murder of these two RUC officers. As for the dismissive comments of Gerry Adams, they stand as further testimony to the hypocrisy and callousness of the republican movement towards its victims. I have no doubt that the vast majority of officers in the Garda Síochána and the people of the Republic will continue to shun those who supported or those who seek to make excuses for the actions of an illegal organisation that engaged in cold-blooded murder.

We must ensure that this dark chapter in our shared history is never repeated.

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