SDLP Leader response to Operation Kenova Interim Report

colum eastwood Operation Kenova

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has said that the Operation Kenova interim report into the activity of the agent Stakeknife lays out the horror of the abduction, torture and murder that was undertaken by the IRA Internal Security Unit, sanctioned by the leadership of the IRA and allowed to happen by the British Government and security services.


Speaking following the publication of the report today, Colum Eastwood MP said:

“My thoughts are, first and foremost, with victims and survivors who will again experience pain and trauma today as the memory of their loved ones is plastered over news reports and political statements. In all that we say and do today and in the days ahead, political leaders should remember the impact our words have on those who have fought for truth and justice for decades, regardless of their background.

“The Operation Kenova interim report sets out in brutal detail the litany of horrors committed by the IRA internal security unit, sanctioned by the IRA leadership and allowed to happen by the British Government and security services. The abduction, torture and murder of children, vulnerable adults and innocent people approach, in my view, the threshold for what would be considered war crimes in other jurisdictions. There should be no hiding place for those involved or those who looked the other way to protect intelligence assets.

“It is clear that the IRA was infiltrated at every level. The report also infers that there were very senior members of the republican movement in the pay of the British State. With all we now know, there are very serious questions about the degree to which the British Government or intelligence services had influence, oversight or control of elements of the IRA campaign.

“Apologies will never be enough but it should at least be the starting point for the Republican Movement and the British Government - specific and sincere statements of regret for the actions undertaken by their agents and uncovered by the Kenova team. Vague or general sadness are, I am afraid, deficient and will be viewed as such by victims and survivors.

“Then there must be a process to ensure that this evil can never happen again and that, wherever possible and wherever wanted, there will be justice outcomes for victims. The scale and quality of the evidence produced by the Kenova team is astounding. It is astonishing to me that in the face of this evidence that there have been no decisions to prosecute individuals who have committed heinous crimes.

“The actions of the British Intelligence Services and the IRA are unconscionable. The needs of victims and survivors must be our primary interest now - and that includes repealing the outrageous amnesty provisions of the Legacy Act. Too many have vested interest in placing a hard full stop on investigating the past - that will never serve the interests of survivors and we will never stand by to let it happen.”

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