Large cache of Troubles documents hidden from legacy probes, programme told

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A “large cache” of documents relating to Northern Ireland’s troubled past was hidden from legacy investigations, it has been claimed in a new TV programme.

The final episode of Spotlight on the Troubles will broadcast an interview with Lord Stevens during which he describes how he became aware of some undisclosed documents after conducting three probes into allegations of security force collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.

The former Met chief said his team held “something like a million documents – tons and tons of paper”.

Sir John Stevens – Pat Finucane Report
Lord Stevens probed the 1989 murder of solicitor Pat Finucane by loyalists and found evidence of security force collusion (PA Archive)

“That may well take this story further. And if it does, it needs to be exposed.”

One of the most high-profile murders which Lord Stevens probed was the 1989 killing of solicitor Pat Finucane.

Supreme Court Finucane ruling
Pat Finucane was murdered by loyalist gunmen in front of his family in 1989 (PA)

The Finucane family has made repeated calls for a full, independent, public inquiry into the killing.

Spotlight reporter Darragh MacIntyre is set to say that he found further material in the vaults of MI5 and other secret agencies that was not available to hundreds of investigations into incidents that happened during the Troubles.

The final programme in the series will also explore the final days of the Provisional IRA, including a battle for hearts and minds which led to the creation of the dissident group the Real IRA.

The Real IRA were responsible for the Omagh bomb which killed 29 people in August 1998, just a few months after the signing of the Belfast Agreement peace accord.

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern said fears of the IRA split that led to the formation of dissident republicans worried Belfast Agreement negotiators in the late 1990s (PA/BBC)

He says the dissidents were “worrying us because they were working very hard and they were having success”.

“They were a serious threat to the Martin and Gerry project at that stage. Credit has to be given to Martin and Gerry for keeping that on board,” he told the programme.

Meanwhile, Matt Treacy has claimed he continued to recruit new members of the IRA until that summer when the IRA’s Dublin Brigade was called to a meeting.

Matt Treacy told the programme some republicans cried when they were told the IRA was over (PA/BBC)

“If you want to be involved in politics, join Sinn Fein. That’s it. People were nearly crying and they were – ‘what are we supposed to do?’ He said, ‘I just told you what to do – join Sinn Fein, get involved in your union, get involved in real politics. It’s over, it’s finished’.

“There is no more IRA.”

The final episode will be broadcast on Tuesday October 22 on BBC One NI and BBC Four at 8.30pm.

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