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The conclusion of the Smithwick Tribunal that Garda officers colluded in the murder of Superintendents Breen and Buchanan is deeply disturbing, and if it is true that one or more members of An Garda Síochána colluded with the IRA in the murders of superintendents Breen and Buchanan, then not only are they guilty of murder, but they let down an entire police force.
Unfortunately there are now unionist politicians who remained silent or indeed excused compelling evidence of collusion in the North over the years, but are delighted to rush to the media to smear the entire Garda Síochána, and that is not only unjustified but must not be allowed to happen.
Garda officers, many of them now retired, were stationed in the border areas during the best part of their lives to protect life. Is history now to be rewritten, as it often is, to misrepresent those officers as villains involved in collusion leading to the murder of police officers in the North? I should think not. During the period from the 70s to the 90s, the Republic, with very limited resources, spent more per head of population on security than the British did, much of it in the border areas. Often Garda stations on the southern side of the border had more manpower than their counterparts on the Northern side and they worked for a fraction of the salary of their RUC counterparts, but they did it to protect lives. They were noble officers who were not influenced by the IRA or any other illegal organisation. Is this now to be dismissed because there may have been one or perhaps more rotten apples in the barrel?
Like police forces all over the world, the Garda have had their problems but they do not deserve the abuse which is now emanating from the usual suspects who ignored, or excused widespread collusion in the North, but now want to present themselves as the voice of perfection, ignoring the fact that Garda officers made a massive contribution to limiting the number of people who may otherwise have died in those days of total madness.
SDLP MLA East Derry
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