Full facts must see light of day

Posted By: October 23, 2015

Irish News Editorial( Belfast). Thursday, October 22, 2015

Allegations of the most disturbing nature have long centred around the activities of the British agent known as Stakeknife, unmasked 12 years ago as the high-ranking IRA member Freddie Scappaticci.

This is a case which goes to the heart of the shadowy world of collusion, the involvement of the state in serious crimes including murder and the crossing of lines by those supposed to be working to protect citizens.

Pressure for a full investigation into the actions of Stakeknife intensified earlier this year when solicitor Kevin Winters, who represents a number of victims’ families in civil cases against Scappaticci, who has denied all claims against him, as well as the Ministry of Defence, called for a probe into the agent as well as the role of the state in protecting him from prosecution.

Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire launched an investigation into the murders of alleged informers by the IRA and the potential role of Stakeknife. In particular, Dr Maguire was trying to determine whether a number of killings could have been prevented.

Information was subsequently passed to the director of public prosecutions, Barra McGrory, who yesterday revealed he has asked Chief Constable George Hamilton to carry out two investigations.

One will seek to examine the full range of offences that may have been carried out by Stakeknife and the second will look at any potential criminal activity carried out by security-service agents.

This announcement represents a hugely significant development in terms of uncovering the truth behind at least 24 murders and possibly many more.

Mr McGrory was entirely correct to pass this matter to the police for a full investigation although no-one should be under any illusions about the likely obstacles ahead.

As we have seen many times in the past, the security services are deeply reluctant to disclose any matters relating to intelligence, the running of agents or potentially illegal activities.

However, it is essential the police are able to do their job without obstruction and the full facts about these troubling matters allowed to see the light of day.