Ex-IRA Man: Sinn Fein Were Never Going To Reveal Truth

In the News Letter last month Adam Kula speaks to Anthony McIntyre about the impact, if any, on the North's legacy issue by the death of Martin McGuinness.

Anthony McIntyre said truth recovery 'is about recrimination, not reconciliation'

Ex-IRA convict Anthony McIntyre has said Martin McGuinness’s death will not make “any difference” when it comes to uncovering the truth behind the Troubles. “I don’t think it was going to happen no matter how long he lived,” he told the News Letter.

I don’t think they’re going to disclose about their past. Truth recovery up north is about recrimination, not reconciliation. There is nothing to be gained for them in term of exposing themselves if recrimination is the goal. This is why we have these endless demands for British soldiers to be brought in front of the courts for Bloody Sunday and a range of other activities. This strategy of [Sinn Fein seeking] prosecutions actually helps keep secrets hidden, because people won’t come forward while the threat of prosecution exists. I long ago gave up on the question of any effective truth recovery process. They want the truth – on behalf of others.

He said the continued focus upon uncovering truth through the criminal courts – which demand proof beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction – is a failure. "That’s no way to enter into a truth recovery process; you have to go for a balance of probability, and the balance of probability is not courtroom-standard evidence,” he said.

In summary, when it comes to the impact his death will have on learning the truth, Mr McIntyre said: “I don’t think it makes any difference. There has to be generosity, and I don’t think there is any generosity in the north.”

Mr McIntyre himself served a 17 year sentence for murdering Kenneth Lenaghan. A member of the UVF, the book Lost Lives said Lenaghan (34) died after being shot from a passing car (along with three other men) while standing outside a pub in south Belfast on February 27, 1976. Mr McIntyre also says he served another year-and-a-half in jail for other IRA activities.Today he is a writer and a prominent critic of Sinn Fein. He is also behind the Boston College project, the controversial US-based scheme to record the stories of former paramilitaries - including their misdeeds - with the idea being that they remain secret until their deaths.

When it comes to Mr McGuinness himself, Mr McIntyre said he was:

a very important figure in the history of this country; a man who was quite prepared to use violence against a very violent state - and I’m not going to condemn him for using that violence.

Lost Lives records that, between 1966 and 2006, republicans killed more than 2,100 people. The security forces by contrast killed 367.


  1. Its improbable that those who can't or won't reconcile themselves to hard current realities will find the capacity to get beyond recriminations about the past.
    If one remains deluded about one's current position (e.g. "we won the war"), it necessarily follows that one is neither able to chart an accurate course forward nor backwards. Failure to take a complete and fearless moral inventory (e.g. "we fought an at times barbaric and an eventually futile war") prevents real freedom from emerging ... a freedom that brings with it clarity and understanding; a freedom where individually and collectively one neither regrets nor wishes to close the door on the past.
    Its only when we're liberated and unshackled from it that the past can perform its function. Its only then that the past can rightfully and accurately inform the present ... and allow for reasonable choices to be made in the here and now. Reasonable choices made in the here and now are the foundations upon which we create a decent future.

  2. It is more a continuation of hostilities than of putting the past to rest. Ironically republicans require the British army to 'motivate' the people, as their politics or lack of, does not. In the absence of that, recrimination keeps the pot boiling. Bring back Scap and resurrect Donaldson for some proper disclosure. Otherwise move on and look to the future. Our children wont be laughing too loudly if their little minds are continually poisoned with selective atrocities.

  3. Larry,

    I think you are right about a continuation of hostilities.

    In the interview my observations about recrimination were not restricted to SF nor was my comment on the pursuit of a prosecutorial strategy. The drive right across the political board is about recrimination and prosecutions. The only people who have a genuine reason to want prosecutions or feel the need for some form of justice through retribution are those who lost loved ones.

    I still feel justice has to be revelatory rather than retributive for it to deliver the most that can be achieved. And that will still fall far short of what a body of people might feel they need. We can only improve, never perfect.

  4. Your analysis on the BBC programme about Scap, AM, was spot-on (IMHO) that there is a shared mutual benefit between the crown forces, intelligence services and PIRA/PSF & indeed loyalists to continue to argue the parameters of any "truth" revelations and never come to any agreement.

    You are also correct that revelation & retribution/prosecution can't happen together - it is a tough and bitter pill for those who lost people but the reality is that the truth (or some of the truth) won't come out where the threat of prosecution is there - I am not in the shoes of those who lost people so I was going to say if I was I would want the truth more but that is easy for me to say, maybe I would want revenge and retribution more - not sure this issue will ever be solved.

    It is such a shame how your Boston project was politicized from the outside as I think that was an important model for helping the truth come out and with establishing a history of the past in a relatively safe environment for all - well until the political hijacking took place at any rate.