ILLEGAL STATE ACTIVITY 'MUST BE ADMITTED'
By Ian Graham, PA
Illegal state activity during the decades of Northern Ireland conflict needs to
be owned up to, a body set up by the Government said today.
The Consultative Group on the Past, established by the Government last year to
produce a report on how Northern Ireland dealt with the legacy of its troubled
past, said innocent people had been allowed to die.
The group is due to produce a report later in the year but co-chairman, retired
Church of Ireland primate Lord Eames and former Policing Board vice chairman
Denis Bradley, outlined their current thinking in an address in Belfast.
They made it clear it was not just the actions of the republican and loyalist
terror groups that had to be come to grips with, but those of the British state
Lord Eames said what many had great difficulty in coming to terms with was that
"the state not only sought to be an honest broker during the conflict but also
played a combative role and, in this context, sometimes went beyond their own
rules of engagement".
He said it was one of the critical issues facing the group, difficult as it may
be for some in society to hear.
"Elements of the state, on some occasions, acted outside the law and through
handling of intelligence it could even be said innocent people were allowed to
"We cannot ignore that, in fact, the state sometimes acted illegally."
The group did not believe unionists had anything to fear from listening to and
trying to understand how the state conducted itself - discovering or admitting
wrong things were done could be a "liberating experience", he said.