by Brian Dooley JOHN STALKER is fast becoming an Irish folk hero. The former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester was welcomed as a living legend on his arrival in Dublin at the weekend following the publication of his book into the investigation he headed and was then relieved of concerning alleged malpractices by the RUC.
The book, Stalker, was
published in England on Monday and reveals the full extent of the difficulties Mr Stalker encountered when examining the deaths of six men shot by RUC officers in 1982.
The obstruction of his
enquiries by RUC officers soon made his task supremely difficult, he says, and claims; "It became obvious that we could not trust anyone". Sir John Hermon, the Chief Constable of the RUC who had first invited an investigation into possible irregularities, is presented as a man afraid of the truth and John Stalker recounts a bizarre incident which occured on their first meeting over lunch at a golf club.
"During the meal, Hermon
handed me a written note, sketched on the back of a flattened-out cigarette packet. It outlined my family tree on my mother's side. She is a Catholic and her parents were born in the Irish Republic. No mention was made of my father, who is a Protestant from a Liverpool family."
Mr Stalker was to be regularly
confused about the actions of Sir John during the course of the enquiry and because the RUC was "unequivocally opposed" to Stalker's team interviewing relatives of the victims, the help of Fr Raymond Murray of Armagh was enlisted.
The priest acted as an
intermediary between the team and the Republican families and even helped in tracing a witness to one of the shootings, the book discloses.
Subsequent revelations that some RUC officers were attemtping to cover up the facts of the shootings had led to calls for the resignation of Sir John from the force. Speculation has increased that he will retire on or around his sixtieth birthday in November.
The Government, meanwhile, is considering action to seize the profits of Mr Stalker's book because some ministers take the view that he wrote Stalker from information he gleaned while a public servant and carrying out an investigation into a police force.
Catholic MP Kevin McNamara, Labour spokesman on Northern Ireland, has called for a judicial inquiry into Mr Stalker's findings, while Bishop Cahal Daly of Down and Connor said last Sunday that "It must be earnestly hoped that the House of Commons will not fail in its duty to probe this grave matter to its depths".
In Ireland, the matter has become a political issue of the highest importance with motions tabled in the Dail to debate its implications the same day as Prime Minister Haughey met with relatives of the six men shot dead in Armagh in 1982 during the RUC's alleged "shoot-to kill" tactic, part of the brief of Mr Stalker's original investigation.