The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland has told the Taoiseach that the Government must “urgently” assist in investigating allegations of collusion between Irish state authorities and the IRA in a number of killings.
In a letter to Micheál Martin, Arlene Foster said “there are many unanswered questions about the role of the Irish state in arming and assisting the IRA in its campaign of terrorism during ‘the Troubles'”.
Asking for a meeting to discuss the issue, the DUP leader lists several incidents where alleged collusion between gardaí and the IRA is alleged.
The letter, seen by the RTÉ News and the Sunday Independent, also quotes the Smithwick tribunal, which found collusion in the murders of two RUC officers in south Armagh in March 1989.
Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan were killed in an IRA ambush on their way back to Belfast after meeting at Dundalk Garda station.
“The tribunal reported in December 2013 but to date no further action has been taken,” the letter said.
Ms Foster points to a collusion issue highlighted last week when the British government again rejected calls to institute a public inquiry into the murder of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane.
“With this in mind, I wanted to identify some issues that are the responsibility of your administration and which your Government can assist with,” he said.
Ms Foster refers to the families of the 10 Protestant civilians murdered by the IRA at Kingsmills in south Armagh in January 1976, who have repeatedly asked the Irish government to pass on any documents that might assist in their search for justice.
“Despite meeting Foreign Minister Simon Coveney TD, representing the previous Irish Government, nothing has been forthcoming on this issue,” he said.
The letter also refers to the murder of Ian Sproule by the IRA outside his home in Castlederg in Co Tyrone in 1991.
In an attempt to justify the murder, the IRA later revealed the intelligence of a Garda journalist who claimed to have been involved in loyalist paramilitary attacks in Co Donegal.
The murders of Northern Ireland High Court Judge Maurice Gibson and his wife Lade Cecily are also highlighted in a bomb attack in South Armagh in April 1987.
They were traveling home from Dublin Airport after returning from a US holiday when a car bomb exploded as their vehicle passed.
Three Irish rugby internationals traveling in the opposite direction on their way to a training session in Dublin were injured in the bombing.
The driver, Ulster Rugby captain Davy Irwin, removed fellow players Nigel Carr and Philip Rainey from the wreck. Carr’s injuries ruled him out of the World Cup in New Zealand that year.
The DUP leader also mentions the Narrow Water Massacre, when 18 members of the British Parachute Regiment were killed in an IRA double bomb attack just outside Warrenpoint in August 1979.
The Prime Minister thanks the Taoiseach for his “quick condemnation” of last week’s tweet by TD Sinn Fein Brian Stanley for that attack, which he describes as “disgraceful” and tells him “causing considerable crime in Northern Ireland”.
Her letter quotes a comment from Foreign Minister Simon Coveney in an interview with BBC Radio Ulster last month when he said: “Real recognition (for victims) is needed on the basis of truth”.
He adds: “I agree wholeheartedly and I firmly believe that if your Government wants to play its role in getting to the truth and thereby assist reconciliation, then it should seek urgent assistance in the cases above and supplying the necessary documentation, as well as examining the recommendations of the Smithwick Tribunal, and the new evidence that has emerged.
“There are many unanswered questions about the role of the Irish state in arming and assisting the IRA in its campaign of terrorism during” the Troubles “and there is no doubt that all these issues need to be re-examined if we all want to get to the truth of what happened in our shared past. “
Noting that there are “other terrible murders” where there are allegations of collusion, Arlene Foster says she would like to discuss the issues with the Taoiseach in the near future.