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Obama, Congress must act after BBC documentary

By Ray O’Hanlon

The U.S. Congress and President Obama should join Amnesty International in demanding action in the aftermath of a BBC television documentary casting light on alleged state-linked murders during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

“The United States must not be silent about this BBC exposure of forty years of British government state terrorism in Ireland, one of the longest terrorist campaigns in history,” said Fr. Sean McManus, president of the Washington, D.C-based Irish National Caucus.

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Amnesty has called for an investigation after the BBC documentary program “Panorama” reported claims that agents inside loyalist and republican terror groups were able to kill and target victims with impunity during the Troubles.

Reported the Guardian newspaper after the documentary, entitled “Britain’s Secret Terror Deals,” was broadcast Thursday night: “Lady Nuala O’Loan, the former police ombudsman in the region, branded informers who were allowed to commit crimes including murder while in the pay of the British state as ‘serial killers.’”

The report added that Panorama had alleged that in many instances the security forces – RUC special branch, military intelligence and MI5 – helped cover up killings carried out by their agents.

Said O’Loan: “They were running informants and they were using them. Their argument was that by so doing they were saving lives, but hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people died because those people were not brought to justice and weren’t stopped in their tracks. Many of them were killers and some of them were serial killers.”

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s program director for Northern Ireland, said: “The breadth and depth of collusion being alleged here is truly disturbing.

“Killing people targeted by the state, using intelligence provided by the state and shooting them with guns provided by the state – if all this is proven, we’re not talking about a security policy, we’re talking about a murder policy.

“There must now be a full, independent investigation into the scale of the policy where the police, army and MI5 worked with illegal paramilitary groups, resulting in the deaths of perhaps hundreds of people.”

The documentary, according to the Guardian, focused on links between the RUC, army and MI5 with the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force, but also explored allegations from the families of those killed by the IRA that, in some cases, those involved in murdering their loved ones were informers for the British state.

Meanwhile, the political crisis in the North prompted by the failure of the Welfare Bill to secure approval in the Northern Ireland Assembly has prompted the Irish and British governments to convene next week for what is being described as a “Review and Monitoring” meeting focused on the Stormont House Agreement.

Invitations have been extended by the governments to the leaders of the Northern Ireland Executive parties. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 2.