Durkan: ‘National Security’ strictures suppress truth about ‘dirty war’

Kate Nash, whose brother was killed during Bloody Sunday talks to the SDLP's Mark Durkan at Stormont as victims' relatives held a protest as the main parties arrived for talks on the political crisis in September.

Kate Nash, whose brother was killed during Bloody Sunday talks to the SDLP's Mark Durkan at Stormont as victims' relatives held a protest as the main parties arrived for talks on the political crisis in September.

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SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has raised his deep concerns with the NI Secretary of State Theresa Villiers that the years of a ‘dirty war’ in Northern Ireland are being replaced by a ‘dirty peace’ – and that the strictures she is placing on ‘national security’ could suppress the truth about the actions of both state forces and paramilitaries during the Troubles – including the role of ‘Stakeknife’ and those responsible for the brutal murder of Derry man Frank Hegarty.

Speaking during yesterday’s Northern Ireland Questions in the House of Commons, Mr Durkan said: “Does the Secretary of State recognise not just that dealing with the past is a matter that we owe to victims, but that people want to know that we have not simply replaced the years of dirty war with a dirty peace? Does she recognise that, in the light of the serious questions raised by the “Spotlight” programme (on Stakeknife and the murder of Frank Hegarty), the strictures she is placing on national security could suppress the truth not just about what state forces and state actors did, but what paramilitary forces and paramilitary actors did during the Troubles?

NI Secretary of State Theresa Villiers replied: “The UK Government are committed to the Stormont House agreement provisions on the past. We do think that they need to be set up, that it is important to give clearer answers to victims who suffered as a result of the Troubles and to do all we can to pursue evidence of wrong-doing. However, I emphasise that I believe the vast majority of the police and armed forces in Northern Ireland during the Troubles carried out their duties with exceptional courage, bravery, integrity and professionalism, so I wholly dissociate myself from the hon. Gentleman’s characterisation of this as a ‘dirty war’”.