'Tradition of British cover-ups protects squeaky clean image'

A clergyman who pioneered research into security force activities during the troubles has said the collusion documents revealed in The Irish News point to a “terrible cover-up”. Fr Raymond Murray worked with Monsignor Denis Faul and Fr Brian Brady to catalogue allegations of wrongdoing in the police and army, plus IRA activities, during the worst years of the troubles.

He pointed to what he said was a longstanding tradition of the British government suppressing evidence of security force wrongdoing. “How much have they given to us? Stalker/Sampson – not revealed. We’ve had John Stevens and a mention about discovering 10,000 documents, but have we not got a right to see these things? “The whole business has been to close them up. “In England people were unjustly imprisoned. What did we get there? They were covering it all up and it was only by an accident that Gareth Pierce found a document.”

Turning his attention to the documents that have now emerged on collusion, he said: “What I am saying is that it is almost by accident that this has come out and it is so unfair. “What have we been depending on over the years? We have been depending on incidental information coming out in the courts, we have been depending on investigative journalists coming on different things almost by accident. “But there is no principle of law and morality coming from the government themselves to reveal these things. “As I read these documents, I was quite shocked. Why didn’t they [government] do something about these things?”

He responded to claims that such documents are the stuff of history, saying: “This is part of the programme coming from Britain, that they are squeaky clean. “You had it from Blair himself, ‘to draw a line through history’. You had it from Hugh Orde and some of his associates, introducing this new word of ‘closure’, whereas the most important word is not closure but disclosure. “The point is that there has been an injustice and people in charge of the law have violated the law.”

With nationalist and unionist politicians clashing over the documents, he added: “The truth will never do any harm. There is a healing in the truth. It is the more important thing. Let the punishments go by. Enough justice is contained in the truth. “No matter how hard it might seem, that is more healing than people that continue to live on the legends and the myths. It’s more important that the plain truth be told. “I think these were valuable documents, but the tragedy was they [government] knew the situation and they let it continue and it was their policy to let it continue. “Nobody ever said stop, and that involved not only those on top of the army and the police but also politicians and civil service. It all had to be a terrible cover-up.”