Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD commenting on criticisms of his remarks on the Smithwick report said:
“I am very conscious that at the heart of this issue are two bereaved families. I did not need reminded of this by any of my political opponents and I am concerned, as I was during the Newstalk interview, not to say anything which detracts from that or which causes any further hurt. That was never my intention.
What I said reflects what is recorded by Justice Smithwick.
So those who attack me are at odds with what is contained in the Smithwick report.
It is nonsense to suggest that I was blaming the two RUC officers for their own deaths. Everyone knows the IRA was responsible. That was never in question.
There is also no question but that the Smithwick report records serious concerns about the security arrangements for RUC officers travelling to Dundalk through South Armagh. These include the fact that information about possible IRA attacks on RUC officers crossing the border was passed to Garda Headquarters and passed by it to the RUC.
It is a fact that RUC Officer Bob Buchanan was crossing the border on average 10 times each month and on most occasions he travelled in his own car which was ‘readily identifiable.’
In his report Justice Smithwick records, and I quote, ‘there was a general view that the RUC crossing the border were targets’ and ‘they (referring to RUC members) were all warned in relation to that.’
The Smithwick report records a senior Garda officer “discussing security with Superintendent Buchanan and asking him “was he happy with coming up without an escort? If you want an escort, we’ll give you an escort. He said he was all right, and that was it.”
And there are other examples of concern about the visits across the border by the RUC officers.
Clearly, the decision to continue to travel as frequently as they did across the border, without escort, left the RUC officers open to the real possibility of attack.
None of this distracts from the tragedy and loss of life.
Sinn Féin supported the establishment of the Smithwick Inquiry. I co-operated with the inquiry and met Justice Smithwick and his team and number of times.
I have concerns about the Tribunal’s conclusions given that it accepts that it found no direct evidence of collusion and then went on to claim without supporting evidence that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ there was collusion.
Sinn Féin supports the recommendations the Tribunal makes with regard to changes in policing and developing full all Ireland co-operation on policing and justice.
There is also a need to deal with the outstanding issues of Weston Park. The Finucane Family are entitled to the same support and levels of disclosure as the Breen and Buchanan Families.
A few weeks ago in the Dáil I asked the Taoiseach to facilitate a reasoned and rationale debate on the past. I made the point that the past must not be allowed to become an obstacle to building the peace and a harmonious and fair future for all our citizens.
Yesterday’s contrived outburst by the Fianna Fáil leader and the pompous remarks by the Justice Minister and others illustrate the importance of such a debate. Why are they not open to discussing the proposal put by Sinn Féin for a comprehensive, victim centred, truth recovery process under the tutelage of an independent international agency?
Could it be that partitionism and revisionism allied with party political self-interest has primacy over more important matters?