UPDATE – See comment below from balaclavastreet.com on UVF letter. The blog specialises in covering Loyalist paramilitary matters. It echoes my reservations re the UVF letter to Haughey……
At the end of December or beginning of January every year we go through the ritual of reading reports about what the government of the day thirty years ago said or believed about this or that. Sometimes the subject matters deal with very important events; very often they keep the juicy bits from view.
We get to read the reports in The Irish Times or watch/listen to them on RTE but we never actually get to see the documents themselves, so we can a) read the whole thing and not depend on the judgement of some reporter whose beat may normally be something entirely different; or b) make up our own minds about the credibility of the source.
That is especially the case this year when we were told that the UVF had written a letter back in 1987 to then Taoiseach Charles Haughey stating that MI5 had allegedly incited the UVF to assassinate him and that they had also supplied the detonators in the bombs which killed the Miami Showband in 1975 (the bombs also exploded prematurely killing the UVF bombers).
Now I have never, in all my years covering the Troubles, seen or heard of the UVF sending letters, never mind one to an Irish prime minister. What does a letter with UVF letterhead look like? What address do they give? How did the government of the day check its authenticity? Did anyone bother to drive up the Shankill to ask? Is it a real letter or an elaborate hoax? I’d like to know and seeing a copy of the original would help me, and other readers/viewers decide.
In this age of smart phones and iPads/tablets equipped with sophisticated cameras there is no excuse for newspapers and TV companies not to demand from the government the right to reproduce the documents in their entirety. Very little bureaucratic hassle would follow and they are, after all, the peoples’ papers. They have a right to see them, even if only on the publication’s website. It happens here in the US routinely, so why not in Ireland?