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21st-Sep-2015 03:32 am - Collins ambush site to be upgraded

By Sean O'Riordan
Irish Examiner
21 Sept 2015



A series of improvements are being planned for the ambush site in mid-Cork where Michael Collins was shot dead by Anti-Treaty Forces on August 22, 1922.

Cork County Council’s architects department is planning to upgrade the Béal na Bláth site next year as part of the centenary celebrations of the 1916 Rising.

Conor Nelligan, the council’s heritage officer, said the extent of the upgrade would depend on funding, but at this stage it looks as though the council will carry out road improvement works; landscaping; put up interpretive boards; and generally freshen up the area. The road will be realigned, providing extra safety and additional parking opportunities.

Mr Neligan said there were no plans at this stage to build an interpretive centre on the site, especially as the council is preparing to open a museum in Clonakilty to commemorate the War of Independence hero.

It had been expected that museum — which is in a three-story house in Emmet Square, close to where Collins once lived — would open late this year. But Mr Neligan said it now seemed likely it would be next year.

The centre will display a large amount of Collins memorabilia and visitors to the centre will be able to view footage on screens, bringing his contribution to local and national history to life. It is expected to be a big draw for tourists.

As part of the council- organised 1916 centenary commemorations, a new play Michael Collins, with the working title The Big Fella, is expected to be launched by GDI Productions.

Meanwhile, in Kilmurry — which is just two miles from Béal na Bláth — the locals are preparing a number of events for next year, which will include officially opening a museum on Easter Sunday.

It will have a strong focus on the War of Independence including artifacts connected to Béal na Bláth and the Kilmichael ambush.

The latter took place in November 1920 when 17 RIC/Auxiliaries were killed in a controversial attack led by IRA Cork No 3 Brigade, commanded by Tom Barry.

The Kilmurry Historical and Archaeological Association is also planning to provide tours of the area’s War of Independence and Civil War sites and, in association with Ballinhassig Historical Society, carry out a re-enactment of a Volunteer march through the village. Both these events are pencilled in for March 27.

Meanwhile, Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage is organising an open meeting at 8.30pm on Wednesday to examine how Clonakilty can commemorate the Easter Rising.

The meeting will be held at the former Boys’ National School in the town, (now the Parish Centre), where three past pupils who participated in the Rising itself in Dublin were taught.

Michael Collins, Con O’Donovan, and Seán Hurley, (the only Corkman killed during Easter Week in the fighting in Dublin), were all pupils at the school before they left as young teenagers.

All local organisations, schools and groups, as well as interested individuals, are encouraged to attend the open meeting.

By Niall Murray
Irish Examiner
17 Sept 2015



The final journey of 1916 rebel Thomas Kent will begin this evening when his remains lie in State close to where he lay buried in a prison yard for nearly a century.

Thousands are expected to attend at the chapel at Collins Barracks on the northside of Cork City, where his coffin will be brought for a 6pm prayer service to be attended by his nieces and other descendants.

The chapel is expected to stay open until after 9pm to cater for the large crowds expected to file past and pay their respects.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will deliver the graveside oration after tomorrow afternoon’s State funeral about 30km away at St Nicholas’ Church in Castlelyons, near Fermoy. It will also be attended by President Michael D Higgins.

Thomas Kent: Final journey begins today.

Kent was executed on May 9, 1916, at the military detention barracks adjoining what is now Collins Barracks, after being found guilty of taking part in the Rising. When the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) came to arrest the 51-year-old local Irish Volunteers leader and his brothers at their home near Castlelyons in the early hours of May 2, Head Constable William Rowe was shot dead in a gun battle.

A brother, David, was injured and after their surrender another brother, Richard, was shot and later died after he tried to escape. Thomas Kent was found guilty of rebellion in a secret court martial in which a fourth brother, William, was acquitted. David was later sentenced to five years’ penal servitude after his death sentence was commuted, but he was released in June 1917.



St Nicholas’ Church and grounds in Castlelyons, Co Cork, in advance of the State funeral of Thomas Kent, with the Kent family tomb third from the foreground. Full military honours will be given at tomorrow’s reinterment in the Kent family plot. (Picture: Denis Minihane)

The site where family members have held annual anniversary ceremonies for decades, at what is now Cork Prison, was confirmed in June as the shallow grave in which Thomas Kent had been buried. An archaeological dig located human remains that were confirmed as his by DNA analysis.



Laying of a wreath at Collins Barracks, Cork, on May 11, 1933. Kent was executed at the military detention barracks on May 9, 1916.

The remains will be brought back there briefly tomorrow morning before the cortege departs to Castlelyons, where full military honours will be given at the reinterment in the Kent family plot.

The State funeral will be televised live on RTÉ One from 1.45pm tomorrow, and gardaí have advised anyone intending to travel to Castlelyons to arrive by 12.45pm due to strict traffic arrangements and limited viewing space.

Wright is believed to have been abducted, interrogated, shot dead and buried in secret by the IRA in 1972

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
15 Set 2015



Friends and family carry the remains of one Séamus Wright. (Photograph: Cathal Mcnaughton/Reuters)

The tragedy of Northern Ireland’s “disappeared” was all the more painful because so many of these victims were young, a priest has told mourners at the funeral of an IRA victim missing presumed dead for more than four decades.

After 43 years ex-IRA member Séamus Wright was finally laid to rest in his native Belfast on Tuesday.

He vanished in 1972 alongside Kevin McKee after the IRA suspected the pair of working as undercover agents for a secret army unity known as the Military Reconnaissance Force, which was carrying out a covert war against the IRA in Belfast during the Troubles’ bloodiest year.

They are believed to have been abducted from their homes in west Belfast, driven across the border, interrogated, shot dead and buried in secret.

DNA tests confirmed that remains found this summer at a bog in County Meath in the Irish Republic were those of Wright and McKee, whose funeral took place in Belfast on Monday.

At a requiem mass for Wright at St Agnes’s parish church in the Andersonstown area of west Belfast on Tuesday, mourners heard that Wright was a “deeply committed” family man with a “strong religious dimension” to his life.

The parish priest said: “He died a young man – just 25 years of age – and the death of a young person seems to hit us harder.” In his homily during mass Father Brendan Callanan added: “It has taken a long time for us to come to this point but we are here.”

Digging is continuing at the site where their remains were found. The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains believes the remains of another victim, the former monk turned IRA activist Joe Lynskey, are also in Coghalstown bog.

The most notorious case of the disappeared was that of Jean McConville, a widow and mother of 10 who was kidnapped, taken in a car from west Belfast across the border to the republic, shot dead and buried at a beach in Co Louth.

The former Belfast IRA commander and hunger striker Brendan Hughes claimed the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, had given the order for McConville to be killed and buried in secret to avoid political embarrassment for the republican movement. Adams has always denied any connection to the McConville murder or even being in the IRA.

Four people remain on the disappeared list, three of them believed to have been kidnapped and killed by the IRA. The missing presumed dead include SAS Captain Robert Nairac, who vanished while on a covert mission in South Armagh.

The other person on the list is Séamus Ruddy, a County Down schoolteacher and member of the Irish Republican Socialist party. He was abducted, tortured and killed by a faction of the Irish National Liberation Army in Paris in the 1980s. Despite searches in the French capital and in a forest in Normandy, Ruddy’s remains have never been found.

Belfast Telegraph
14 Sept 2015


Relatives of one of the "Disappeared", victims of Northern Ireland's Troubles, have given him a Christian burial more than 40 years after his murder.

Kevin McKee's remains lay in bog land in the Irish Republic for almost 43 years before they were found earlier this year along with another man the IRA shot and secretly buried during the conflict.

IRA men Mr McKee, 17, and Seamus Wright, 25, both vanished in Belfast in October 1972.

The IRA shot them on the suspicion they were working as British agents.

Fr Michael Murtagh, former Rector of Clonard Monastery, told mourners who had packed into St Peter's Cathedral in West Belfast: "We are here to give Kevin McKee a Christian burial. This is happening 43 years late but it is still important that we do it.

"It is important for Kevin and for his family that they are given the chance to grieve publicly and acknowledge the awful tragedy his murder and secret burial was."

Funerals for both men - Mr Wright's will take place on Tuesday - were arranged after a summer-long wait for confirmation of DNA tests.

Their bodies were recovered from the same shallow grave on reclaimed bog land in Coghalstown, Co Meath, in June during a dig to find a third man killed and "Disappeared" by the IRA.

Mr McKee's disappearance took its toll on each family member, the priest said.

"We remind ourselves how this affected each of his family members, those living and those dead, especially his late mother Mary.

"We acknowledge 43 years of pain, of wondering, of uncertainty and not knowing what had happened.

"We acknowledge that at times there were very few to turn to and it was a lonely road for them to travel."

The hunt for the Disappeared has been overseen by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) - an independent body set up during the peace process to find 16 victims secretly buried by republicans.

The ICLVR was on site for several months this year searching for the remains of former Cistercian monk Joe Lynskey when the two other bodies were found.

It is also only a few miles from where the body of Brendan Megraw was discovered last year following searches at Oristown, Co Meath.

The searches for Mr Lynskey have to date been unsuccessful.

Fr Murtagh commended the process set up to locate the Disappeared.

He said: "It is part of our sometimes faltering peace process that is working."

Mr McKee will lie beside his mother at Blaris cemetery in Lisburn, Co Antrim.

**There are many who will find Cusack's story below entertaining. What I find equally amusing is Bobby Storey's urging of citizens to give any information concerning the 'criminal' killers of Davison and McGuigan to the PSNI although he himself intends to sue the PSNI for arresting HIM for questioning. (See this RTÉ story)
_____

Jim Cusack
Independent.ie
13 Sept 2015

The Provisional IRA was about to appoint multiple murderer Gerard 'Jock' Davison as its so-called 'chief of staff' before he was shot dead in May, it has emerged.

Davison (48) is believed to have already held a place on the IRA's 'supreme' governing body, the 'Provisional Army Council' (PAC) and was the most senior figure in the Provos ever to have been shot dead.

Sources say he had been proposed as 'chief of staff' by a fellow Belfast member of the PAC and was awaiting elevation to the top spot when he was shot dead on May 5. No other 'Army Council' man had ever been killed before him.

Garda sources confirmed to the Sunday Independent that Jock Davison was 'there or thereabouts' at the top table of the Provisional IRA leadership when he was shot.

Ironically, it is also believed that Davison had been an agent for British security services who may also have been supporting his elevation to the top spot. This may have been part of a long-term plan to ensure that a figure like Davison would ensure the IRA kept to its ceasefire.

Gerard 'Jock' Davison

In another twist, the PAC member who was said to have been promoting Davison as 'chief of staff' was also once suspected of being an agent working for British military intelligence. At one stage in the early 1990s, this man was being secretly filmed by an undercover RUC squad when he met his British Army handlers in a south Belfast park. During the meeting, the man was handed a briefcase stuffed with cash. A large IRA arms dump in west Belfast was seized shortly after.

Davison's role as a 'tout' was exposed in the immediate aftermath of the gruesome murder of innocent Belfast man Robert McCartney (33) in a Belfast city centre pub in January 2005. Davison ordered his men to butcher McCartney and his friend Brendan Devine following a drunken row, giving the order by running his forefinger across his throat and motioning towards the pair.

In the stabbing and beating frenzy outside the pub Davison slashed his own arm and went to the A&E at the Ulster Hospital in Dondald in east Belfast. There he was witnessed speaking to two men wearing suits and speaking in English accents.

Davison was never charged over the McCartney murder but continued his rise up the ranks of the Provisional IRA leadership. He was previously implicated in the murders of nine alleged Catholic drug dealers in Belfast but never played any significant role in fighting British forces in Northern Ireland.

Sources in Belfast say one of the reasons Kevin McGuigan decided, after years of simmering hatred, to murder Davison was because he had learned he was about to be elevated to the top job in the IRA. McGuigan had, it is said, referred openly to Davison as a 'tout'.

The Provisional Army Council, which officially doesn't exist any more, largely consists of Northern and specifically Belfast men. All are millionaires from 'dipping' into the organisation's massive criminal machine.

The Army Council members include:

The remaining chief of staff, a west Belfast man in his fifties who still occasionally lives in the back streets where he grew up but has several other houses and whose wife and children live openly ostentatious lifestyles.

An Armagh man once known as a dole cheat who is said to own a house on which up to €3m has been spent, paid for with money from diesel laundering, along with many other properties.

The Belfast man who was proposing Davison as 'chief of staff' and who still lives in a modest family home in west Belfast but is secretly wealthy.

Another Belfast man, a member of an IRA 'aristocracy' family, who once ran a multi-million euro illegal rubbish dumping business.

Two other Belfast men who were released from the Maze jail as part of the prisoner release deal after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

A prominent member of Sinn Fein from the Republic.

The claim that the former IRA gunman was shot by his ex-comrades has thrown Stormont into turmoil. But the manoeuvring is far from over

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
12 Sept 2015

Bound, blindfolded and with a broken jaw, the terrified Territorial Army soldier must have thought he was about to die at the hands of the Provisional IRA in the republican north Belfast redoubt of Ardoyne.

It was 11 July 1986, the eve of “The Twelfth”, when Protestants celebrate King William’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne. But instead of ending up at one of the bonfires lit at midnight to mark loyalists’ and unionists’ most important day, the army reservist from the Protestant West Circular Road had strayed too close to Ardoyne and had been kidnapped by local republicans.

As the soldier awaited his fate in the early hours of the 12th, having sustained a savage beating at the hands of his two IRA captors, a pair of joggers approached the house, apparently on a morning run. Yet when the two men, dressed in tracksuits, stopped at a house in Holmdene Gardens, they turned to the door and kicked it in. Once inside, they drew their guns and went searching for the missing soldier. The reservist was about to be rescued by the SAS.

His two IRA guards bolted but were captured shortly afterwards in a joint army-police operation after hiding in the loft of a house in the street behind. The IRA men were veterans of the Provisionals: one was the late Martin Meehan, a street fighter famed for prison escapes and gun battles with the British army. The younger man, still in his 20s, was Kevin McGuigan, whose death in August this year has brought the power-sharing process in Northern Ireland to the brink of collapse.

It is this killing, which the police say was carried out with the involvement of the Provisional IRA, that has plunged the province into its worst crisis for a decade, raising the critical question: is the IRA still a functioning and deadly force?

For kidnapping the TA soldier, Meehan and McGuigan were sent to the Maze maximum security prison outside Belfast, where they joined their imprisoned IRA comrades in the H-Blocks. When both were eventually released in the early 1990s, Meehan moved into politics, eventually becoming a Sinn Féin councillor. The republican movement, however, had a different role for McGuigan to play: he would become one of their most feared and ruthless assassins.

Martin Meehan in 1975

When the IRA declared its ceasefire on 31 August 1994, the organisation remained on a war footing. To keep its footsoldiers busy and the fighting machine oiled, the organisation spent most of the early part of 1995 gathering intelligence on a new generation of criminals who were amassing fortunes selling drugs in Catholic working-class areas of Northern Ireland.

Operating under a flag of convenience – a campaign group called Direct Action Against Drugs (DAAD) – the IRA selected McGuigan for an assassination unit that would target alleged drug dealers in Belfast and other parts of Northern Ireland. Another even younger activist who was being groomed to become Belfast IRA commander – and ultimately, perhaps, the organisation’s overall chief of staff – was drafted in to run the DAAD murder campaign. His name was Gerard “Jock” Davison.

DAAD’s offensive began in April 2005 when they shot dead drug dealer Mickey Mooney in a downtown Belfast pub. Between 1995 and 2001 the group killed up to a dozen men. Security sources have told the Observer they are “absolutely certain” that McGuigan killed at least one of the victims of this vigilante campaign – Brendan “Speedy” Fegan in May 1999.

The death of Fegan, at a bar in Newry close to the border with the Irish Republic, demonstrated McGuigan’s prowess as a murderer. As he entered the Hermitage Bar in Newry city centre, McGuigan, wearing a wig and fake moustache, fired a number of shots into the roof of the pub, causing panic and chaos. McGuigan singled out the 24-year-old drug dealer, shooting Fegan about 16 times.

Kevin McGuigan

The unit of McGuigan and Davison became an object of fear among the IRA’s many enemies, and its activities led to the latter’s promotion to head the Provisionals’ Belfast Brigade. Yet in a world of volatility, suspicion and daily violence, the fellow IRA killers would eventually fall out.

Both men had grown up in the Market area of central Belfast but spent a lot of their adult life just across the river in the Short Strand area – a Catholic district bordered on three sides by the mainly loyalist east of the city. Although a family man and a passionate follower of Gaelic sports, McGuigan’s volatile nature meant that even neighbourly disputes could end in violence. One such attack on a veteran republican family resulted in the IRA’s internal discipline unit being called in.

McGuigan was sentenced to a “six pack”, which, translated from Belfast street parlance, means gunshot wounds to the feet, knees, hands and elbows. McGuigan was bitter for years and believed one man was to blame for his punishment – Davison.

One former comrade from the time they were in the H-Blocks together was the IRA prisoner turned author and critic of Sinn Féin, Anthony McIntyre. McIntyre, who visited McGuigan in hospital after the six-pack shooting, recalled: “He was an ‘army man’ who believed strongly in the office of the leadership. I think his deep sense of loyalty to the army led him to resent Jock, who he felt hijacked the army and punished him for reasons that were unfair – the result of favouritism and personalities.”

For a decade, McGuigan nursed a dark grudge, which the IRA in Belfast now believe led him to kill Davison on a rainy Tuesday morning in May. The description of the gunman fitted McGuigan’s profile: diminutive, wiry, fit and professionally covered-up.

In the weeks and months following Davison’s murder, the 53-year-old father of nine issued statements through his solicitor denying any role in the killing. Over the summer McGuigan was warned three times by the Police Service of Northern Ireland that his life was danger, but he chose to remain in the Short Strand with his wife, Dolores.

Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison

While the police appeared to be making no progress over the murder, Davison’s closest comrades were holding their own secret inquiry. They set up a unit that carried out interrogations and put a surveillance squad on McGuigan. Inside the Belfast IRA, meanwhile, debate raged over whether to strike back at whoever killed Davison, with some close to the Sinn Féin leadership fearing that bringing IRA footsoldiers back onto the streets would create a huge political crisis.

According to sources close to senior republicans, what swung that debate over to the side of those urging a brutal response was the surveillance team. They reported first to a one-time Belfast Brigade commander that they had seen McGuigan at Davison’s home. This IRA veteran, who once directed the Provisionals’ bombing campaign in Belfast and was close to Davison, then persuaded other senior republican figures to act – or they might be next.

Around 9pm on 12 August, as McGuigan was pulling up in his car with his wife at their home in Comber Court, two men clad in dark clothing ambushed him. They wounded him with a volley of shots and, as he tried to escape, killed him on the ground in front of his wife.

Ed Moloney, a veteran IRA-watcher and world authority on the Provisionals, is in no doubt that the leadership gave the go-ahead for the killing. “If this had been a genuinely freelance action, it would have been met with a ferocious response from the IRA against those responsible, and we haven’t seen that at all,” he said. “The unauthorised use of weapons, especially in a politically controversial killing, would merit a court-martial and a death sentence. In practice, nothing happens in the IRA without the approval and knowledge of the IRA’s military and political leadership.”

The Democratic Unionist party has threatened to pull down Northern Ireland’s coalition due to the alleged role of the IRA in McGuigan’s death. But Gary Donnelly, a former prisoner and Independent Republican councillor in Derry, said he didn’t believe unionists really cared about an ex-IRA gunman who, if ordered to do so during the Troubles, would have assassinated any unionist politician.

"I have no doubt Stormont will be back soon and will continue to yield a political dividend for the British government". --Gary Donnelly, republican councillor

“Bodies in the street and high-profile arrests are optics to deflect the electorate from substantive political issues. I have no doubt Stormont will be back soon and will continue to yield a political dividend for the British government,” Donnelly said.

Northern Ireland is unlikely to return to the sort of society it was back in 1986. The community from which McGuigan emerged doesn’t want to go back to war. While power sharing remains in peril, there will be no return to the 24/7 conflict of the Troubles past. Yet the murder of the former IRA gunman illustrates how that past continues to haunt the politics of the present.

Republican sceptics might be correct in suspecting unionists are using the killing to crash the current power sharing arrangement and, after elections later in the autumn, restore devolution on a basis that is more favourable to them. But past grudges, bad blood and one-sided folk memories of the Troubles still pollute the atmosphere in the region – not only at the parliament on the hill at Stormont but far beyond, in the old war zones where the conflict once raged.

Suzanne Breen
Belfast Telegraph
3 Sept 2015

An American gunrunner is set to be flown to Northern Ireland to give evidence in court against a senior Sinn Fein strategist, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

In what would be one of the most high-profile trials in years, Florida stockbroker turned gunrunner Mike Logan has agreed to testify against Sean "Spike" Murray, once a prominent IRA member, in Belfast Crown Court.

Logan claims he sent Murray hundreds of weapons during his five-year gunrunning career which began after the IRA ceasefire and continued following the Good Friday Agreement.

Murray is one of Sinn Fein's most senior officials in Belfast. Less that a fortnight ago, he was a member of the party delegation which met the Chief Constable at PSNI headquarters to deny IRA involvement in the murder of Kevin McGuigan and to insist the IRA no longer existed.

Mike Logan will give evidence against a one-time prominent IRA member in court

The deadly cache of weapons that Logan sent the Provos included around 200 handguns which were used in several murders including the killing of two police officers in Lurgan in 1997.

Spike Murray has continually denied any involvement in the gun-smuggling plot, describing the allegations as "without foundation".

But Logan (56) claims he worked for the IRA, reporting directly to Murray, who has served seven years in the H-Blocks for explosive offences and is a regular visitor to Sinn Fein offices in Stormont.

The Belfast Telegraph can exclusively reveal that a high-powered PSNI delegation travelled to the US last month to ask Logan to give evidence against Murray. They included Det Chief Supt Tim Hanley, Head of Serious Crime Branch.

The detectives held a three-hour meeting with Logan in a Florida Hotel. His lawyer spoke to them on the phone in advance to ensure he had immunity from prosecution.

Logan initially refused to co-operate with the PSNI. However, they remained in regular contact with him. Logan changed his mind a fortnight ago and told the police he was willing to help the investigation and to give evidence against Murray.

Three detectives and a PSNI camera operator are due to meet Logan in Florida in early October to formally interview him and record his evidence on video.

Sources say that if a prosecution case is successfully constructed, detectives have told Logan he will be flown to Belfast for the trial and housed in secure accommodation. He has been promised "total protection" in court and when travelling to and from court.

Sean 'Spike' Murray

When asked about the dramatic new developments in the case, a PSNI spokesman would only say: "Inquiries are continuing. This remains a live investigation and as such we can't comment."

Apart from sending the weapons used to murder Constables John Graham and David Johnston in Lurgan in 1997, another gun Logan sent the IRA was used to kill Real IRA Belfast commander Joe O'Connor three years later.

Logan believes a third was used in the IRA's attempted murder in England of former Special Branch agent Martin McGartland in 1999.

McGartland was shot six times outside his home in Whitley Bay. His life was saved by neighbours using cling film to stop the blood flow from his wound.

Two months later, the Czech-made Luger pistol used in the attack was found in undergrowth along the River Tyne. McGartland claims there has been "a massive cover-up" about the gun's origins as the authorities want to avoid blaming the IRA for the attack.

Logan was first interviewed in April last year in a BBC Spotlight programme which suggested that the British authorities, at the highest level, knew the full details of Spike Murray's involvement in the arms' importation but turned a blind eye in order to protect the peace process.

The day after the programme, the DUP met the PSNI to raise concerns and, hours later, it was announced police were investigating the Florida gunrunning operation.

Until our revelations today, details of that investigation had remained secret.

Logan was given immunity from prosecution by the US authorities in 2002 in return for giving them information about the weapons he had bought for the IRA.

Derry Journal
19 July 2015

Police say they seized a number of items following raids carried out in Derry following incidents at the wake and funeral of the mother of INLA Hunger Striker, Patsy O’Hara.

Peggy O’Hara was the last of the Hunger Strikers’ mothers to die, and was laid to rest yesterday in one of the largest paramilitary style funerals seen in the city for many years.

The PSNI confirmed that they carried out searches in Derry this morning in connection with a number of recent events in the city.

Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan said: “This morning’s searches follow a number of recent incidents linked to the wake and funeral of Peggy O’Hara. A number of items have been seized and police enquiries are ongoing.”

David Moore
News Letter
19 July 2015


Image from Belfast Telegraph

Members of terror group the INLA stood guard at the funeral of a hunger striker’s mother in Derry on Saturday.

The DUP have questioned the policing of the funeral, which they say “seemed to take place without a police officer in sight”.

However, one photo of the event shows a PSNI vehicle with a CCTV camera observing ranks of masked men as they parade past.

The funeral cortege of Peggy O’Hara, mother of the hunger striker Patsy O’Hara, who died in the Maze Prison in 1981, was accompanied to the graveside by a ‘colour parade’ of 50 men and women in paramilitary dress.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said that prior to Saturday’s funeral, his party colleagues had alerted the PSNI to the potential for paramilitary displays at the funeral after members of the illegal republican group fired shots over the coffin of Mrs O’Hara outside her home in the Templegrove area of the city on Wednesday.

“Despite our efforts with the police, it would seem that there were no visible signs of police in close proximity to the funeral cortège on Saturday,” he said.

Mr Campbell said that, in contrast with recent convictions for loyalist bandsmen breaching Parades Commission determinations, it seemed INLA members could discharge guns “without fear of prosecution”.

The East Londonderry MP called on the PSNI to explain the extent of the policing operation and what action will be taken against the illegal parade.

“It seems, however, that the police are treating some groups in some areas with kid gloves, thus leaving the impression that there is a two-tier justice system.”

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said there is no “one size fits all” approach to policing but strongly denied allegations the PSNI are biased.

“We absolutely reject any suggestion of bias in policing.

“Such remarks are inaccurate, unhelpful and ill informed,” he said.

The PSNI said that items were seized during searches as part of its investigation into the wake and funeral.

A republican speaker at the funeral said that the O’Hara family supported the INLA show of strength.

In comments reported online by the Derry Now website, Martin McMonagle of the Irish Republican Socialist Party told mourners that the O’Hara family had asked him to “thank the INLA for the magnificent show today in bringing Peggy to her resting place”.

However, UUP MLA Ross Hussey said people would expect to see convictions after “this brazen display of paramilitary thuggery”.

“People will feel intimidated and shocked that this is allowed to happen in 2015,” he said.

The West Tyrone MLA added that the presence of paramilitaries on the streets “tarnishes the name of the city of Londonderry”.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton responded sarcastically to a Twitter user who questioned the policing of the funeral.

“Clue might be in the police Land Rover complete with evidence gathering facilities! Like we said earlier – an investigation ongoing.”

The PSNI were unable to provide details of how many convictions have resulted from intelligence gathering operations at funerals.

Derry Journal
18 July 2015



Photo by Hugh Gallagher

There was a large turnout for the funeral of the late Peggy O’Hara in Derry as people from across the country gathered at the Long Tower chapel to say farewell to the much loved mother of INLA hunger striker Patsy who died in Long Kesh in May 1981, 61 days into his protest.

The remains of Mrs O’Hara, 86, were brought to the funeral mass in a horse drawn carriage; a tricolour flower arrangement on top said simply “friend”.

In his eulogy the Reverend Brendan Collins said that he had learned much about Peggy as he sat with he family during the wake and added that he had been particularly struck by the “high esteem” in which she was held by all who had known her.

“She was well known in the community and beyond, with people coming to today’s funeral from far and wide and was a huge source of comfort and support for so many,” he said.

“When we reflect on Peggy’s life we think of the question ‘how did she do it’?

“How did she keep her spirits up? She was a strong person of great faith. Father Paddy O’Kane who brought communion to Peggy every month and is in Lourdes today told me that he is celebrating mass there for her as well. He told me that he first met Peggy when her son Patsy was in prison just a few days before he died. He described Peggy as a very kind, sincere and good natured lady. A woman who loved her family and whose strong faith had sustained her through the darker days in her life.”

Mrs O’Hara’s remains were flanked by a 50 man colour party who escorted her to her final resting place in the city cemetery via Bishop Street and the Brandywell.

Derry Journal
18 July 2015



Image of Proctor/McClements from Belfast Telegraph article

A 24-year-old man has appeared in court charged with the murder of Paul McCauley.

Piper John McClements, formerly known as Daryl Proctor, appeared at a special sitting of Derry Magistrate’s Court on Saturday.

McClements, of The Fountain, is charged with the murder of Mr McCauley on June 6, 2015.

Mr McCauley died on this date nine years after he was attacked at a barbeque in the Chapel Road area of the Waterside.

McClements was previously convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr McCauley and served a prison sentence for this.

The court heard this is the first case of its kind in Northern Ireland where a person has been convicted of an assault and then charged with murder after the victims death.

McClements was granted bail, despite police objections.

The 24-year-old was released on his own bail of £500 with one surety of £600.

He is banned from contacting the McCauley family, banned from entering the Waterside except if accompanied by either of his parents or of travelling directly to Strathfoyle gym.

McClements is banned from consuming alcohol and from entering licensed premises and must sign bail daily.

He will appear in court again on August 13.

17th-Jul-2015 09:49 pm - Man charged with Paul McCauley murder
A man has been charged with the murder of Paul McCauley in Derry.

Story by UTV Staff, Belfast
:::u.tv:::
17 July 2015

**See also: Paul McCauley dies after being beaten by loyalist thugs in 2006 sectarian attack in Waterside, Derry



Paul, before the brutal attack

Mr McCauley died last month in a care facility almost nine years after he was attacked by a mob in July 2006.

Police said they arrested a 24-year-old man in the Fountain Street area of the city on Thursday morning.

The man has been charged with murder to appear at Londonderry Magistrates Court on Saturday.

A short statement from the PSNI said: “A 24-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Paul McCauley and is to appear at Londonderry Magistrates’ Court on Saturday.”

Paul McCauley never recovered after he suffered severe brain injuries when he was viciously set upon by a loyalist gang while attending a barbecue in the Waterside area on 16 July 2006.

The Catholic civil servant, who was 29 years old at the time, had remained in a persistent vegetative state since the attack, unable to move or communicate, and needing 24-hour nursing care.

Police on Thursday said the investigation had “taken on a renewed impetus” since Paul’s death last month.

Detective Chief Inspector Michael Harvey, from Serious Crime Branch, said: “This is a very challenging investigation, especially with the passing of time, but we are fully committed to exploring all avenues and opportunities and I would appeal to everyone in the community, if they have any information, come forward and contact detectives.”

Derry Journal
14 July 2015

Peggy O’Hara, mother of Derry hunger striker Patsy O’Hara has passed away aged 88.

Mrs O’Hara’s son Patsy, a member of the INLA was amongst ten republican prisoners who died in Long Kesh on hunger strike in 1981. He died after 61 days.

Mrs O’Hara contested the Northern Ireland Assembly elections aged 76 in 2007.

At that time she was quoted as saying she would stand after Sinn Fein announced in that year they would hold a special Ard Fheis on policing in the north. Mrs O’Hara said she would put her name forward for the elections in memory of her son.

““Patsy would have been against this,” she said.

“I was there for years and years when Patsy got lifted and was taken out in his bare feet by the police.

“A lot of people, including young people, have the same opinion as me.

“No-one has come to me and asked me what I think of the policing debate.

“I am standing in memory of Patsy if the elections take place,” she told the Irish News in 2007.

The O’Hara family hailed from the Bishop Street area of Derry. Patsy O’Hara was interned in Long Kesh in 1974 and joined the INLA upon his release in 1975. He was subsequently arrested in Derry later that same year and held on remand for six months and for a further period of four months in 1976.

In May 1978, he was arrested in Dublin but was released hours later. He returned to Derry in 1979 and was arrested and later convicted of posession of a hand grenade and recieved an eight year jail term. At the beginning of the first hunger strike in 1980 he was officer commanding INLA prisoners in Long Kesh. He joined the 1981 hunger strike on March 22, 1981.

Sampson report recommended that two officers in Northern Ireland be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice

Ian Cobain
The Guardian
9 July 2015



Michael Tighe, 17, was shot dead by the RUC in Co Armagh in 1982

Details of an alleged criminal conspiracy by MI5 to obstruct one of the most sensitive murder inquiries of the 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland have been exposed following the emergence of key sections of a previously secret police report on the affair.

The report details how officers of the security service were said to have concealed the existence of an audio recording of an incident in which RUC officers shot dead an unarmed teenage boy, Michael Tighe, and then destroyed the tape to prevent it falling into the hands of the detective who was investigating the killing.

Compiled at the height of a tumultuous 1980s political scandal known as the Stalker affair, the report recommended that two officers – thought to be the highest-ranking MI5 officers in the province – be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice.

Its author, Colin Sampson, then chief constable of West Yorkshire, condemned MI5’s concealment of a key piece of evidence during a murder inquiry as “wholly reprehensible”, and said the officers responsible were guilty of “nothing less than a grave abuse of their unique position”. He added in his report that the excuse they had given for failing to surrender the recording was “patently dishonest”.

Sampson reported that he had gathered sufficient evidence to justify the prosecution of three MI5 officers for their roles in the conspiracy. However, he recommended that the most junior officer, who had carried out the act of destruction, be granted immunity in return for giving evidence against the two high-ranking MI5 officers.

He also recommended that three senior police officers be prosecuted for conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

In the event, none were prosecuted after the then attorney general, Sir Patrick Mayhew, said the government did not believe it to be in the interests of national security to bring them to trial. Mayhew’s statement made no mention of MI5, however, and was couched in a way that led MPs to believe that Sampson had recommended only police officers be prosecuted.

Sampson’s report remained secret for 30 years. However, sections of the report were included in submissions to the court of appeal in Belfast when a survivor of the police shooting, Martin McCauley, successfully appealed against his conviction for possession of rifles.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission, the official body that examines alleged miscarriages of justice, had referred McCauley’s case to the appeal court. The commission is thought to have interviewed people who had listened to the surveillance recording to establish whether any warnings could be heard being shouted before Tighe was shot dead.

After McCauley’s conviction was quashed, the director of public prosecutions of Northern Ireland requested a new investigation into the concealment and destruction of the surveillance recording.

The police ombudsman of Northern Ireland is currently investigating the actions of a group of former Special Branch officers, while detectives from Police Scotland are investigating the conduct of a number of former MI5 officers.

News Letter
28 June 2015



Lisa Dorrian was last seen at a Ballyhalbert caravan park in February 2005

Police are set to ‘study’ fresh allegations by a life sentence prisoner that the body of Bangor murder victim Lisa Dorrian was buried in a sealed container at an illegal landfill site.

Jimmy Seales – who is serving a minimum 15-year-term for the murder of Philip Strickland who died after being shot in the face at Ballydrain Road, near Comber in 2012 – told the Sunday Life that the remains of Ms Dorrian are buried in a landfill site in Ballygowan, Co Down.

In the interview Mr Seales told the Sunday paper that Lisa’s body was put into a 40-gallon container and the lid welded shut before it was hidden in land.

Police have said they would study the fresh allegations by Mr Seales.

Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway said: “Police will be studying the allegations contained in this report.

“I would appeal to anyone who believes they have information about Lisa’s disappearance and murder to come forward and talk to us.

“Despite the passage of time, it is not too late. Police inquiries are continuing.

“Those individuals who have knowledge which could free the Dorrian family from their living nightmare should do the right thing and give up their secrets.”

Lisa was last seen at a party on a Ballyhalbert caravan park in north Down in February 2005.

The 25-year-old’s body has never been found despite extensive air, land and sea searches.

Earlier this year, a reward of up to £5,000 was offered on Crimestoppers for information about her suspected murder.

In 2012 detectives investigating her murder searched an area of farmland near Comber using specialist equipment.

Cameron’s refusal to establish Bloody Sunday-style inquiry into collusion between Finucane’s killers and security forces ‘lawful’, says Belfast high court

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
26 June 2015



A Belfast court has upheld David Cameron’s decision not to hold an independent inquiry into the 1989 loyalist murder of the Northern Irish solicitor Pat Finucane.

Finucane’s family brought a judicial review against the government’s refusal to establish a Bloody Sunday-style inquiry into his murder after a previous investigation found there was collusion between Finucane’s killers and the security forces.

In his judgment at Belfast high court on Friday, Mr Justice Stephens said: “I uphold that the decision was lawful and accordingly I dismiss that part of the challenge.”

Stephens said he believed government ministers had “anxiously” considered a range of factors before arriving at the decision. He said: “There is no direct evidence that the decision had been taken at earlier stages. There is no direct evidence of a closed mind.”

The judge also acknowledged that a number of key witnesses were dead and that the most significant witness would be unable to take part in a public inquiry because of a medical condition.

Speaking outside the court, Finucane’s son John said the family was disappointed but would not drop their campaign for justice. “We have been on a campaign for 26 years. We have had numerous setbacks, numerous successes along that way.

“We see today not as a setback which would end our campaign once and for all. There are certainly comments and material within that judgment, even with an initial viewing, that would cause us hope.

“What is clear and what the court has found is that there was a clear, unequivocal promise made to my mother; made to my family as a result of Weston Park.

“The court has felt restricted and limited in interfering in what was a political decision but I think the public can make their own minds up that when an unequivocal promise is made to our family by the government and that is changed quite cruelly -- I think they can decide for themselves what lies behind that.”

Finucane, 38, who represented a number of high-profile republicans, was shot dead in front of his wife and three children at their north Belfast home in February 1989.

The killing, one of the most notorious of the Troubles, is shrouded in controversy over allegations that the security forces colluded with the gunmen from the outlawed Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

At the time of the Finucane assassination, at least 29 members of the UDA in the terror units responsible for his murder were agents either of police special branch, the army’s force research unit or MI5.

Although the government-established De Silva Inquiry found evidence of collusion between the killers and the security forces, the Finucane family described the inquiry as a whitewash. They have always demanded that only an inquiry independent of government and chaired by an international figure with full public transpareny can establish the full truth about the scandal.

Sir Desmond de Silva QC found there were “shocking” levels of state collusion but no overarching state conspiracy in the lawyer’s murder.
The prime minister did issue an apology to the Finucane family over the state’s role in the murder. But despite the family’s demand for a public inquiry, Cameron insisted that a public inquiry would not shed any new light on the scandal.

Suspected remains of former monk and one other unearthed on land that was believed to be secret burial place of IRA victims who went missing in 1972

Press Association
The Guardian
25 June 2015

**Please see also this article by Ed Moloney at The Broken Elbow for further insight: Have The Remains Of Seamus Wright And Kevin McKee Been Found In Co. Meath Bog?




The scene in Coghalstown where human remains have been found on reclaimed bogland. (Photograph: Niall Carson/PA)

The remains of two bodies have been found on reclaimed bogland in the Irish Republic where three of the so-called IRA Disappeared are believed to have been secretly buried.

A dig on the farmland in Coghalstown, Co Meath, as part of the search for the remains of former monk Joe Lynskey unearthed one body on Thursday morning, the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) said.

A second body was discovered as further examinations took place at the site and preparations were made to take the first body out the ground.

IRA victims Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee are believed to be buried in the same area, the ICLVR said.

“We have always said that we think three bodies are in that area and until there is further identification we just don’t know,” a spokesman said.

It is understood the second set of human remains was unearthed as specialists cleared ground around the first body to prepare it for removal.

Lynskey’s family, who have endured a 43-year wait to give their loved one a proper burial, were notified of the initial discovery and were said to be shocked but relieved at the discovery.

The former Cistercian monk was abducted and murdered by the IRA in August 1972. The group only admitted his disappearance in 2010. Wright, another of the Disappeared believed to be dumped in the bogland, was also from Belfast.

Joe Lynskey, a former monk who was executed and secretly buried by the IRA. (Photograph: Wave Trauma Centre/PA)

He was in the IRA and was murdered in the same year by his former colleagues, who accused him of being a British army agent and a member of its Military Reaction Force – an undercover unit.

Wright was married and 25 years old when he went missing in October 1972. He worked as an asphalt layer. McKee, again from Belfast, and in the IRA, he was also murdered in the same year.

He was also suspected of being in the British army agent and the Military Reaction Force. He was interrogated and murdered by the terror group.

Lynskey’s niece, Maria, had been expected to visit the site after the discovery and said her thoughts were with other families awaiting news.

“We would like to thank the [ICLVR] and those who have engaged with the commission in the search for Joe,” she said.

“Our thoughts are with the other families whose loved ones remain disappeared.”

Extensive searches have been carried out at the site for both Wright and McKee, but this year was the first dig for Lynskey’s remains.

BBC
17 June 2015



Philip McMurray is taking legal action against the Chief Constable, the secretary of state, the Ministry of Defence and an IRA informer

The husband of an RUC officer murdered by the IRA is to take legal action over his wife's death.

Philip McMurray believes it is the only course of action he can take, after a BBC Panorama programme highlighted allegations of collusion in the attack on his wife's patrol vehicle.

Colleen McMurray was killed by an IRA mortar bomb

Constable Colleen McMurray, 34, was killed when a mortar bomb exploded in Newry, County Down, in 1992. A colleague lost his legs in the attack.

Mr McMurray was also an RUC officer at the time. The couple had been married for 18 months.

He is taking action against the Chief Constable, the secretary of state, the Ministry of Defence and an IRA informer.

Peter Keeley, allegedly an undercover agent in the IRA, told the programme that he had helped design the technology that fired the rocket remotely.

He said he had passed that information onto his handlers and also told them the IRA was planning an attack.

Peter Keeley

The programme shown in May, examined the extent of security force collusion with paramilitary agents during decades of violence in Northern Ireland.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said that since the introduction of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIPA) Act 2000, the conduct of covert operations by UK security forces is heavily regulated and scrutinised.


BreakingNews.ie
4 June 2015



Ivor Bell

The prosecution of a veteran republican accused of involvement in the murder of Belfast mother of 10 Jean McConville is to proceed.

After a number of court extensions to consider their case, prosecutors had been given a final deadline of today to indicate whether they would be pursing the case against Ivor Bell.

A lawyer for the North's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) ended mounting public uncertainty around the case this morning when he told judge George Connor it would be proceeding.

“A decision has now been taken to prosecute this defendant,” he said.

Bell, 78, from Ramoan Gardens in west Belfast, was arrested and charged in March last year.

He is charged with aiding and abetting the murder of the widow who was abducted from her home in west Belfast in 1972.

He is further accused of IRA membership.

Bell, wearing a dark grey shirt, sat impassively in the dock of Belfast Magistrates’ Court during the short hearing.

Two of Mrs McConville’s children, Michael and Suzanna, watched proceedings from the public gallery.

Boston College tapes

Part of the case against Bell is based on a tape police secured from an oral history archive collated by Boston College.

The college interviewed a series of former paramilitaries on the understanding their accounts would remain unpublished until their deaths.

But that undertaking was rendered meaningless when the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) won a court battle in the US to secure the recordings.

Detectives claim one of the interviews was given by Bell – a claim the defendant denies

Mrs McConville was dragged from her home in the Divis flats by an IRA gang of up to 12 men and women after being accused of passing information to the British Army in Belfast – an allegation discredited by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman.

She was shot in the back of the head and buried 50 miles from her home.

The IRA did not admit her murder until 1999 when information was passed to police in the Irish Republic.

She became one of the “Disappeared” and it was not until August 2003 that her remains were eventually found on Shelling Hill beach, Co Louth.

No-one has been convicted of her murder.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was last year arrested and questioned as part of the police investigation into Mrs McConville’s death.

The Louth TD has consistently rejected allegations made to Boston College by former republican colleagues including Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price that he had a role in ordering her death.

The PPS continues to review a file on Mr Adams.

Relatives believe victims sacrificed to preserve position of British army agent Stakeknife

Owen Bowcott
The Guardian
1 June 2015

**Photos and links onsite

Relatives of people “executed” by the IRA for allegedly betraying the republican movement by acting as informers have begun legal action to discover the truth, as they prepare to tell their harrowing stories to an official investigation into at least 20 murders stretching back to the 1980s.

The revelation in April that Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman is conducting an investigation into whether the murders could have been prevented has triggered legal claims against the Ministry of Defence and the man identified as the army’s highest ranking agent in the IRA.

Detail of a mural on the corner of Falls Road, west Belfast, with an IRA warning for informers, in 1985. (Photograph: Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)

At the heart of the tortuous history of double-crossing is Freddie Scappaticci, known as Stakeknife, who fled Belfast after being unmasked as a senior IRA commander during a terrorist trial in 1991. Scappaticci was later identified as an agent for British military intelligence, but has consistently denied being Stakeknife.

For decades, the victims’ families – smeared by accusations of disloyalty and reluctant even after the end of the Troubles to talk to the police – were left alone with their grief and disbelief.

That their relatives may have been sacrificed to protect the army’s most productive agent – Stakeknife – inside the IRA’s Internal Security Unit, or “nutting squad”, has begun to emerge only recently.

The ombudsman’s office is investigating about 300 cases of alleged collusion. The key issue is whether double agents within the IRA were permitted to commit crimes – even murder – in order to gain the trust of paramilitary organisations or sacrifice IRA members to protect their own position.

Among the victims were:

• Joseph Mulhern, whose bullet-pierced body was discovered in a ditch beside a remote border crossing in County Tyrone. The IRA volunteer’s hands had been tied with wire. Three weeks later, in July 1993, his father was handed a tape of the 22-year-old supposedly confessing to informing on IRA activities.

• Caroline Moreland, 34, a single mother of three, was last seen alive ironing in her kitchen. Six weeks before the IRA announced its 1994 ceasefire, she was abducted, tortured and shot dead in County Fermanagh. The family received a recording in which she admitted betraying the location of a hidden IRA rifle.

• Paddy Trainor, 29, disappeared from a drinking club in February 1981. He was blindfolded before being shot in the back of the head; his body was marked by cigarette burns. His sister could not bear to listen to the cassette tape.

Weeks after burying his son, Frank Mulhern said, Scappaticci came up to him. “He shook my hand and asked how things were,” Mulhern said. “He was asking if anyone was giving me hassle.

“I knew he was with the nutting squad. He told me he had been up [in Donegal] where my son was being held. When he got there [Joseph] was only wearing a cross and chain – no clothes. He said my son looked really tired and ordered he be given a wash, a shave and something to wear.

Freddie Scappaticci - 'Stakeknife'

“Scappaticci knew about the two bullet wounds – to my son’s neck and head. I felt sick. Scap could have had me taken out and shot me if I did anything. He was a very powerful figure. If you were in the IRA and Scap was looking at you, your knees turned to water.”

The voice on the tape handed to the Mulhern family alternates between anxiety and resignation. Such recordings were meant to prove treachery but Joseph Mulhern’s statement was reminiscent of newsreel clips of a Stalinist show trial. In the confession, clearly extracted under duress, the young man introduces himself in a hesitant voice: “I’m a volunteer. My name is Joseph Mulhern. I’ve been working for the Special Branch this past three years.”

The tape stops and restarts several times. It ends in what sounds like a scripted plea: “I bitterly regret this past three years. I would urge anyone in this same predicament to come forward as there is no other way out.”

His father dismisses the recantation as fictitious. “I did not believe it,” Frank Mulhern said. “A few weeks earlier, Scappaticci had called around to see my son and had taken him to places where there were arms and explosives. The army later seized them.

“The IRA launched an investigation. The last two people to see the weapons had been Scap and my son. Obviously Scap did not fall under suspicion but my son did. His comrades in the IRA didn’t believe it. They all turned up for his funeral.” Some people nevertheless called his son a “tout” – slang for an informer.

Even after Stakeknife was exposed, the republican movement made no public apology. “The IRA will never admit anything,” Mulhern said. “They are like the British army; they are never wrong.”

He believes that, with an agent inside the IRA’s counter-intelligence unit, his son’s life could have been saved. “[Joseph] was held for two weeks, across the border. Why didn’t the handlers notify the Garda Síochána? They could have saved others’ lives, too. British intelligence was that far into the IRA, you wouldn’t know who was working for them.”

As evidence emerges, the scale of the security forces’ penetration of the province’s paramilitary organisations grows ever more astonishing. One informed source has estimated that by the end of the Troubles as many as 90% of loyalist and 50% of republican active paramilitaries had been recruited as informants.

The most thorough investigation into collusion, the De Silva report into the loyalist killing of the Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane, published in December 2012, described agent-handling guidelines for the army’s Force Research Unit (FRU) – which controlled Stakeknife – as “contradictory”.

MI5, Special Branch and the FRU operated separate regimes, Sir Desmond de Silva said. “Agent-handlers and their superiors were expected to gather intelligence without clear guidance as to the extent to which their agents could become involved in criminal activity,” he concluded. “Intelligence officers were … asked to perform a task that, in some cases, could not be achieved effectively in ways that were lawful.”

Scappaticci was allegedly not the only agent operating inside the provisional IRA’s security department. Other names have surfaced. An informer who survived an IRA execution squad, Martin McGartland, has alleged two of the guards who held him were also from “a protected species”.

Kevin Winters, at the Belfast firm KRW Law, which is coordinating relatives’ compensation claims against Scappaticci and the Ministry of Defence, suspects the absence of a legal framework was deliberate. “De Silva confirmed that collusion as a state practice did exist,” he explained. “It showed there was no oversight, no protocols and the cynical view was that that allowed agents to thrive.

“By killing people at a low level in the organisation, they were ingratiating themselves into the paramilitary structure. The families of those shot dead as informers felt they were beyond victim status because of the stigma attached to the deaths. That has now changed.”

Shauna Moreland, 30, last saw her mother ironing in the family’s kitchen in west Belfast. “My mother had trained as a nurse so if anybody [in the IRA] was injured and couldn’t go to hospital, they would be brought to her,” Shauna recalled.

“I said ‘cheerio’. She gave me a hug and a kiss. I went off to my grandmother. She said ‘See you tomorrow’. She was missing for 15 days. They tortured her. I was first told it was a case of mistaken identity. I never felt the stigma because I was too young. Years later I found letters from IRA men in prison sending condolences; they knew it was an injustice.

“I want answers. I’ve listened to the tape they sent. It keeps stopping and starting. I don’t believe she did it. Why didn’t the police go and free her? [Stakeknife’s] handlers must have known. MI5 made the bullets and the IRA fired them. She was a sacrificial lamb.”

Her older brother, Marc Moreland, 34, understood more at the time. “I was heartbroken,” he remembers. “It was born into us that we were republicans. You hated the army, you hated Protestants, you hated the Brits. The IRA was meant to be on your side; they were meant to protect you.

“I went round to the house of a local IRA man after my mother was killed. He had steel security gates at the bottom of his stairs. I must have been 14 or 15. He wouldn’t come out but his son, who was 18, did. I [hit] him. The next day, four or five guys in balaclavas came round and told me to get out of the area.”

Eileen Hughes, 68, remembers snow falling the day the body of her brother, Paddy Trainor, was found. “My mother was in hysterics,” she said. “Another brother went to identify him. He said [Paddy] was covered in cigarette burns.

“He was shot to cover up for someone else. My brother listened to the tape. It was Paddy’s voice but we didn’t believe it. They accused him of being an informer. He had been lifted a few times by the police and may have got the price of a drink off them but he was not an informer.”

Hughes’s son, Tony Kane, was shot dead in 1995 by a republican group linked to the IRA, supposedly for drug dealing. She had been summoned to a meeting some time before at which, she said, Scappaticci told her: “The next complaint I get about your son, I will put one in his head.” She added: “I would like to see Scappaticci charged. I used to know him; my best friend used to go out with him. His father sold ice-creams around the area. I blame the police and the government. They knew these kids were getting shot to cover for [Stakeknife].”

The MoD declined to comment on the allegations. Lawyers for Scappaticci did not respond to requests for comment. Scappaticci’s whereabouts is unknown.

The dead have a habit of haunting Northern Irish politics. “If a truth and reconciliation process had been delivered years ago,” said Winters, “we wouldn’t have all this civil litigation. If the government had said: ‘Yes, we saved lives, but we got things wrong as well … ’ It’s the blanket denial that’s the problem. The families just want to know what happened.”

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