Prime Minister’s refusal to apologise for Troubles crimes committed by British agents ‘indefensible’

Prime Minister’s refusal to apologise for Troubles crimes committed by British agents ‘indefensible’

PRIME MINISTER Rishi Sunak has been slammed for refusing to apologise for the criminal activities of British agents who infiltrated the IRA during the Troubles.

During Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday afternoon, Mr Sunak was asked if he would make a public apology to the victims of those agents.

Last month an interim report from a lengthy investigation into the Troubles-era practices of a former double agent known as Stakeknife was released.

Launched in 2016, Operation Kenova was set up to investigate a large number of kidnappings, tortures and murders linked to the army agent while working inside the Provisional IRA.

If found that the unnamed agent “was involved in very serious and wholly unjustifiable criminality, including murder” and that “it is likely that his crimes as an agent resulted in more lives being lost than were saved”.

The report also called for an apology from the British Government for their use of such agents.

Rishi Sunak faced the call for an apology during Prime Minister's Questions yesterday afternoon

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood suggested Mr Sunak make the apology to the family of Stakeknife’s victims.

“The recently published Kenova report makes it clear that the IRA was riddled with British agents from top to bottom,” he said.

“Those agents were involved in the abduction, torture and murder of British and Irish citizens.

“The British Government—successive British Governments—knew all about it and did nothing.

“The report also calls for an apology from the Government to those victims. Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to make that apology?”

Mr Sunak refused to make the apology claiming “the report is an interim one”.

“As the Secretary of State has laid out, we cannot comment on the findings until we get the final report, but we would never condone wrongdoing where there is evidence of that,” he said.

“I will also say, because it is not said enough, that the overwhelming majority of the police, armed forces and intelligence services served with great distinction,” the Prime Minister added.

“They defended democracy in the face of some horrendous violence, and without their service and their sacrifice, there would have been no peace process.

“They helped ensure that the future of Northern Ireland will never be decided by violence but by the consent of its people.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood claims Mr Sunak's refusal is 'indefensible'

Mr Eastwood has described Mr Sunak’s refusal to apologise as “indefensible”.

“Last month the interim Kenova report into the activities of the agent Stakeknife confirmed that the IRA internal security unit was responsible for the abduction, torture and murder of children and vulnerable adults - what some would reasonably call war crimes,” he said.

“I said at the time that the use of agents like Stakeknife raised serious questions about the influence, oversight or control that intelligence services had over the IRA campaign. “That’s why the report recommends an apology from both the British Government and the Republican movement for action and inaction that led to preventable murders.

“To date neither has offered a specific or sincere statement of regret,” he added.

“The Prime Minister was given the opportunity to contribute to reconciliation and help victims and survivors, it is indefensible that he refused it.”