Irish Daily Star on 18 December 18, 2012A piece from regular contributor Dr John Coulter on collusion which first appeared in the
I want an apology from Brit PM Dandy Dave Cameron because I was right about collusion!
That's also the message I am sending to the two police officers who formally interviewed me about collusion allegations in 1991. I was part of the Channel 4 Dispatches research team which probed the solicitor Pat Finucane's murder by the UDA in February 1989.
The then-RUC was livid about my interview with a leading member of an organisation called the Inner Circle, which I exposed in the programme, aired in October 1991. Even before the programme was shot, a security source "advised" me not to make the show. Collusion was then a taboo subject in the media.
In his apology to the Finucane family, Dave Cameron said: "Collusion should never, ever happen."
But it did, so can I have my apology, too, Dandy Dave now you have proved that my research was correct?
The peelers who interviewed me about my role in the Dispatches episode even offered me a deal - say that I had made up the research about collusion and there won't be any charges!
Maybe these police officers would like to visit prominent QC Sir Desmond de Silva who drew up the 500-page review of the Finucane murder and offer him the same deal!
Of all the collusion killings, Pat Finucane's is the one I remember most. He died a month before I was married.
Such was the level of collusion, it took me two years between when I first met the Inner Circle contact until when I felt able to publish the first story in 1988.
But was collusion simply about killing as many republicans as possible? There was a bigger agenda, one which would eventually leadto the IRA ceasefires and Sinn Féin peace process.
In 1991, I posed this question to the Inner Circle source: 'What will the Inner Circle's future strategy be?' His answer: 'The objective of the Inner Circle will be basically to ensure that the hawks in the republican movement are killed and this will leave the talkers.'
What was exceptionally clear from my conversations and interviews with the Inner Circle was that there was a systematic agenda to the loyalist death squad targeting, not a random Shankill Butchers-style selection of innocent Catholics.
It was equally clear that that if Sinn Féin was to be properly drawn into a peace process, and the Provos were to quit their terror campaign, certain key republicans would have to be silenced.
Pat Finucane's widow, Geraldine, has fought a long campaign to get a public inquiry into her husband's murder. The fallout from my collusion probe could not be compared to her personal loss. But I, too, went through a living hell as a result of investigating collusion.
The most bitter medicine to swallow came from some journalistic colleagues who told me I had got the whole story wrong and that collusion simply didn't exist.
Then there was the professional price. I was told my career as a full-time reporter was over. The choice was simple. If I wanted toremain a journalist, then clear off to Canada. If I wanted to stay in Ireland, then leave full-time reporting and get a job in public relations or tele-evangelism. I chose the latter.
A number of my confidential sources in loyalism turned against me, with one telling me I was to be shot dead for my involvement with the programme.
The social price was also heavy. One of my close chums was a peeler's son, but he told me never to come near the house again for fear of his dad being branded as my source.
The de Silva report may still be a far cry from what the Finucane family wants, but at least the critics who branded me a liar for saying there was collusion are strangely silent. I wonder why!