Senator Mark Daly:
The next issue on which I seek a response is on the military reaction force which was uncovered by a BBC Panorama documentary which highlighted the that this was an official undercover unit, sanctioned by the British army, which would go around west Belfast into Catholic areas and shoot civilians. Its intention was to shoot armed men at checkpoints but that did not always happen. Innocent civilians were killed. The former British Prime Minister, Mr. Ted Heath, at Downing Street was shown a memo. BBC Panorama uncovered the document which stated that the Prime Minister had asked that the next unit being constructed after the military reaction force should operate within the law, which is a clear admission that he was aware that the military reaction force had operated outside the law. As a Prime Minister being aware that his own army was acting outside the law in going around part of a territory to which he had a claim, one would imagine he should have taken action if it had not been sanctioned. Unfortunately, as we now suspect, it was sanctioned at the highest level.
Minister for European Affairs:
The House will also be aware of the issues raised in a BBC “Panorama” documentary in November 2013 concerning the alleged activities of an undercover British army unit, the military reaction force, MRF. The Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory, has asked the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland to investigate these allegations. The DPP has been provided with a detailed analysis by the PSNI of the comments made by three former soldiers in the course of the programme. In respect of the serious allegations surrounding the activities of the MRF, the PSNI is seeking to identify those who appeared on the programme and those who provided information to it.
Cases like Ballymurphy, the military reaction force and the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, the hooded men and other legacy cases, underline the need to find a comprehensive, fair and balanced framework for dealing with the past. If not dealt with, the past will continue to have a deeply corrosive effect on politics. In this regard, it is disappointing that Unionist parties withdrew last week from talks in Belfast on parades, flags and dealing with the legacy of the past. It is hoped that this is only a temporary setback and that all the parties will return to the talks as early as possible.