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Was the government prepared to let the Real IRA off the hook if it ceased its violent campaign?

  • 08-08-2021 1:42pm
    Registered Users Posts: 3,497 ✭✭✭ political analyst

    In an article published today in the Sunday Indo, Rodney Edwards wrote that, according to a senior security source, ex-garda John White, who died last year, informed officers investigating the Omagh bombing of secret talks between the Irish government and the Real IRA more than a year before the talks became public.

    The source said that White claimed that Dr Martin Mansergh had a meeting - which was secretly recorded by gardaí, according to White - had a meeting with the Real IRA to offer the group a deal whereby the Garda Síochána would, if the group ceased its campaign, not pursue and prosecute their members for past activity and would not put them in prison unless they committed violent acts in the future or confessed to past crimes. The alleged possible deal meant suspects might be arrested but they would not be charged if they remained silent.

    In October 2003, Bertie Ahern confirmed the meeting - despite previously denying it. A week after three senior investigators said White was telling the truth, another senior security source said he too believes White,

    The late Fr Alex Reid also maintained contact with Mansergh in a bid to bring about a Real IRA ceasefire, which was eventually announced in September 1998. The security source claims Fr Reid went to Dublin at the request of senior Sinn Féin figures (including the late Martin McGuinness with the knowledge of the Northern Ireland Secretary's office, to establish communication with the Real IRA to try to influence it to cease its campaign. According to the source, it seems there was a dual approach from the Irish and British governments after the explosion to stop future attacks.

    My question is similar to the one that was asked by the source: Did the Irish government (possibly along with the British government) act with a view to ensure that even those terrorists who committed crimes on the island of Ireland after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement would not go to prison?

    This alleged conspiracy to pervert the course of justice is, as I quote in relation to a massacre committed by the Provisional IRA in the West Midlands almost a quarter of a century before the Omagh bombing, an "appalling vista".


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,497 ✭✭✭ political analyst

    An inquiry by civil servants found that White's allegations were unfounded but the fact itself that civil servants conducted that inquiry raises doubts about the inquiry. What did the government have to fear from a statutory inquiry?

    Letting terrorists who committed crimes after the Good Friday Agreement was signed walk free would be a step too far.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,497 ✭✭✭ political analyst

    Why is nobody here commenting on this?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,842 ✭✭✭ francois

    No evidence except for some hearsay from a dead source, allegations found to have no substance. A nothing burger.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,497 ✭✭✭ political analyst

    I phrased the first paragraph of the OP poorly. The security source said that John White told investigators of the secret talks between the Irish government and the Real IRA more than a year before the talks became public. The source also said that White told his Northern Ireland counterparts that the talks were secretly recorded by gardaí.

    In that article, Rodney Edwards quoted a second security source:

    "In terms of John White's credibility on this issue; he was telling the Omagh investigation team of this meeting between Mr Mansergh and the Real IRA in June 2002, prior to Ahern admitting it in October 2003. How could John White have known about that meeting prior to Mr Ahern's admission?"

    Edwards also quoted Lisa Dillon, whose 8-year-old brother, Oran Doherty, died in the blast:

    "We can only hope and pray the Irish Government will listen and we get to the bottom of this. To think Omagh could have been prevented makes me sick to the pit of my stomach. My little brother didn't need to die alone with all the other innocent people. I'm angry and I'm hurt. We must not be forgotten and justice must be served, we sat around for too long and were too silent."