We are currently witnessing a host of red herring and false trails being laid by those within the UK and Irish administrations who are fearful of an opening up of the recent past. These maneuvers are designed to convince people that it would be a bad, if not calamitous idea to establish a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, which would look at the years of the ‘long war’ that the people of the north of Ireland experienced between-1969 and 2005. The latest example of such behavior is contained in a Statement from the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland[PSNI] Sir Hugh Orde.
In his statement Mr Orde said he has been requested by upwards of four on going Public Enquires, to hand over the names of members of Irish paramilitary organizations who acted as informers for the RUC/PSNI. According to the Belfast Telegraph* the Chief Constable indicated he is talking to his lawyers about the use of Public Interest Immunity Certificates, [PIIC] which if issued would allow him to refuse to name these police informer’s on the pretext of a public interest being involved. Orde claimed if he were to name names, it would harm the on going ‘war on terror’. Not least because it would make it all the harder for the police/security services to recruit informers in the future, if those in a position to become touts felt ten years down the line their names might be placed into the public arena.
On the surface the attitude of Hugh Orde might seem perfectly reasonable, however if we look in a little more detail at those Public Enquiries that we know Mr Orde has had requests from; they include the inquiries into the murders of the loyalist terrorist Billy Wright, who was killed in the Maze Prison, solicitor’s Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane; and Robert Hamill, a Portadown Catholic who died whilst members of the RUC allegedly looked on. It is therefor difficult not to conclude that far from the public interest being served by the Chief Constable withholding the names of any police informers, the opposite is true and the public’s interest would be best served by these inquiries looking at all of the circumstances that led up to the deaths they have been tasked to look into. Including any role police informers or their handlers might have played in these deaths. Not least because there have been public allegations that all of those who lost their lives in this grouping did so with an element of State collusion being involved.
So what Orde in reality appears to be doing by even considering to bring PIIC into play, is clearly to work against the public interest by protecting murderers and individuals who have allegedly conspired to commit murder, some of whom may well have been or are currently serving police officers.
Thus it is imperative that Hugh Orde is given short shrift with his talk of the public interest and the ‘war on terror’ and any application for a PIIC is seen for what it is, an attempt by the PSNI Chief Constable to cover up past misdemeanors and crimes by members of the RUC/PSNI up to and including murder.