independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Smithwick raises questions about our institutions

Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Garda Commisioner Martin Callinan speaking to media on the findings of the Smithwick Tribunal at Farmleigh Phoenix Park
Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Garda Commisioner Martin Callinan speaking to media on the findings of the Smithwick Tribunal at Farmleigh Phoenix Park

JUDGE Peter Smithwick's report into the murder of two senior RUC policemen at the Border in 1989 deserves serious study by everyone in authority on this island. It reminds us in the starkest possible way that the victims of what we euphemistically call 'The Troubles' are to be found in every community and many walks of life.

It also raises questions about the functioning of our institutions in the Republic. The report is critical of An Garda Siochana and comes as a blow to its leadership.

But we must assess the events of March 1989 in the context of the extraordinary life-and-death pressures on all our institutions of State across three decades. We cannot forget that 12 gardai died in the conflict confronting murderous terrorists.

An Garda Siochana's previous conclusion that there was no question of any kind of collusion with the IRA in this matter was fully supported by the North's police, the RUC. And the political leaders in Dublin and London readily accepted the two police forces' view.

The judge's counterview, almost a quarter of a century later, must be carefully assessed for the lessons all sides can learn. The Government has accepted this and pledged to study it carefully.

As we take stock of it all, we also need to identify ways in which we can move on, help those who suffered and continue to suffer and, above all, help buttress the North's fragile peace.

What we do not need at this time is the posturing and showboating of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. He has not told the truth about his own past and his insensitive comments on the Smithwick Report yesterday were totally unacceptable.

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