Letter: Reporting Ulster

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Fergal Keane repeats the canard that "Sinn Fein has previously paid the price for the IRA's involvement in two murders" ("What kind of peace process ignores the Provos' murders?", 7 August). Had he checked, with his claim of being privy to reliable republican sources, he would have known that he was dead wrong.

At the time of the talks which preceded the Good Friday Agreement, the RUC Chief Constable, with great flourish, called a press conference at which he announced that three men, IRA members, had been charged with the murders of two drug dealers and that he had forensic evidence, including the weapon used, with which to implicate the IRA. Sinn Fein were duly suspended from the talks, neatly evening up for the suspension of the UDA's representatives after a spate of sectarian killings in Belfast.

Six months later, with no press conference, flourish or mention even in the mass of the media this side of the water, the charges against all three men, including membership of the IRA, were thrown out and they were released. The RUC had to admit that there had been no weapon on which to base a case. The men are pursuing compensation for wrongful imprisonment, with one claiming actual physical assault by RUC interrogators.

Until we get even-handed reporting of events in Northern Ireland, Hitler's dictum will prevail that a lie repeated often enough unchallenged will come to be accepted as the truth.

ARTHUR VALENTINE

Edinburgh

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