Archive for the ‘Irish Republican Army and UK/Northern Ireland Relations or Policies’ Category

Seven charged in major roundup of Irish militant suspects

May 19, 2012

LISBURN, Northern Ireland (Reuters) – Seven Irish nationalists have been charged in Northern Ireland of involvement in militant activity, three under a rarely used law against “directing terrorism,” in one of the highest profile roundups of its kind in the province in recent years.

Five were charged on Friday and two more on Saturday of offences including conspiracy to murder and cause explosions and the preparation of terrorist acts, police said, following a joint operation with security services.

Three men appeared in a court in Lisburn near Belfast on Saturday, flanked by a dozen armed police in riot gear, to hear the charges.

Two were brothers of prominent Lurgan republican Colin Duffy who was acquitted earlier this year of an attack by militant group the Real IRA on the army’s Massereene Barracks in Antrim three years ago. The third man was Duffy’s cousin.

The Real IRA is one of several groups opposed to the 1998 peace deal that largely ended three decades of tit-for-tat killings between mainly Catholic Irish nationalists opposed to British rule of Northern Ireland, and predominantly Protestant unionists who wanted it to continue.

Sporadic gun and bomb attacks by dissident Irish nationalist groups aimed mainly at security forces have intensified in the past couple of years.

In April, police found a “significant” bomb near the main Dublin-to-Belfast motorway, and a bomb was found under the car of a policeman’s parents, the latest in a spate of attempted attacks on Catholic officers and their families.

The Real IRA claimed responsibility for the murder of two soldiers in a gun attack on Massereene Barracks three years ago during one of the worst weeks of violence in recent years.

In January, 46-year-old Brian Shivers was jailed for a minimum of 25 years for the murders but Colin Duffy, 44, walked free.

His brother Paul Duffy, 47, was one of the men charged on Saturday with “directing terrorism,” a charge often levelled against groups suspected of involvement in international terrorism, but rarely used in Northern Ireland.

Two of four suspects arrested in Tyrone and Londonderry last weekend have also been charged with directing terrorism. All four are due in court later on Saturday.

Colin Duffy was in court on Saturday with several dozen family members and supporters. A lawyer representing the three men said their family was being persecuted by the police.

(Reporting by Ian Graham; Editing by Conor Humphries and Sophie Hares)

Irish government ‘refused cooperation’ with probe into IRA attack

March 15, 2012

Warrenpoint ambush

The government of the Republic of Ireland allegedly ordered senior police officials not to assist an investigation into a 1979 attack by the Provisional Irish Republican Army that killed 18 British soldiers in the UK province of Northern Ireland. The attack, known as the Warrenpoint ambush, took place in the afternoon of August 27, when a British military convoy was blown up by a remote-controlled 500-pound fertilizer bomb hidden in a lorry loaded with straw bales. It was soon followed by a second massive bomb blast at a nearby house, and resulted in the British Army’s greatest loss of life in a single incident during the Northern Ireland Troubles. Now a retired officer of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), as the British police body in Northern Ireland was then known, has told an official government inquiry that the Irish government refused to collaborate with the investigation into the Warrenpoint ambush, and even ordered its senior police officers to distance themselves from it. The man, who testified behind closed doors through a video link from Belfast, cannot be named and is instead referred to in tribunal documents as ‘Witness 68’. All that is known about him is that he is a retired detective and retired from the RUC with a rank of Deputy Assistant Chief Constable. He told the Smithwick Tribunal that the government of the Republic of Ireland instructed its intelligence and law enforcement personnel to view the Warrenpoint ambush as a political crime and to abstain from the British-led criminal investigation into the killings. Consequently, in April 1980, when British RUC officials met with senior officers from the Garda’s (Irish police) Criminal Intelligence Division in Dublin, the Irish delegation informed British officials that the Irish Prime Minister, Jack Lynch, had given specific instructions that “no assistance would be given to the RUC”. Subsequently, the RUC discovered that a site located in the Republic of Ireland, which the British suspected had been used to detonate the bomb that exploded a few yards away at Warrenpoint, had been destroyed before forensic teams were able to examine it. After four high-level meetings in Dublin, Garda officers finally told RUC investigators that “nothing further would be released” about the ambush, and that they should “not come back”. The Smithwick Tribunal is an official judicial inquiry into the 1989 killing by the Provisional IRA of two police officers of the RUC. In the course of the inquiry, its mission has somewhat broadened to include allegations of collusion between the Provisional IRA and Irish government institutions, including the Garda. At the end of the testimony by Witness 68, Michael Durak, who represents the Garda commissioners at the Tribunal, said that the evidence was “of no relevance to the tribunal but was a headline grabber”.

Inquiry examines whether IRA had mole inside Irish police

November 16, 2011
IRA muralIRA mural

An Irish government investigation has unearthed intelligence reports claiming that an informant within the Irish police, the Garda, helped the Provisional Irish Republican Army plan the killings of a judge and two senior British police officers in the 1980s. Sir Maurice Gibson, a Lord Justice of Appeal for the British Crown, was killed along with his wife, by a remote-controlled car bomb, as they drove over the Irish border back into Northern Ireland on 27 April 1987, following a holiday. A little less than two years later, on March 20, 1989, Royal Ulster Constabulary officers Harry Breen and Robert Buchanan, were killed in an IRA road ambush in South Armagh. The two RUC officers, who were killed as they drove back from a meeting with Garda officers in the Republic of Ireland, were targeted despite the fact that they were riding in an unmarked car. This has sparked rumors that the victims’ travel itinerary had been supplied to the IRA by an inside source, possibly an officer in the Garda. In 2000, Jeffrey Donaldson, a British Member of Parliament, told the House of Commons that Garda Detective Sergeant Owen Corrigan was the IRA mole that leaked the itineraries of Judge Gibson and the two RUC officers. The Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin, which was set up in response to Mr. Donaldson’s allegations, is scheduled to conclude at the end of this month, following public testimony by several individuals. One of those is Detective Superintendent Brian Burton, of the Dundalk Garda station, the very same station in which Det. Sgt. Corrigan served at the time of the IRA killings. Earlier this week, Burton gave the Smithwick Tribunal access to intelligence reports from the Garda itself, which show that the Irish police also suspected the existence of an IRA mole in its ranks. The reports mention Corrigan’s links to a garage owner in Ireland, who had a conviction for weapons offences. Corrigan, who has legal representation at the Smithwick Tribunal, denies the allegations.

MoD apologizes for murder after 40 years

November 1, 2011


Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to apologize to Billy McKavanagh’s family forty years after British soldiers murdered him, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

On August 11, 1971, McKavanagh was shot in the back as he was running from British soldiers in Markets area in south Belfast.

Walking down Catherine Street with his older brother Pat and a cousin, 21-year-old Billy picked up a pair of waders from the road but dropped them and started to run when he confronted soldiers who opened fire on him and detained the other two who were seriously assaulted while in custody.

The British Army misleadingly claimed that McKavanagh was a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and that he was carrying a weapon when he was gunned down.

Nevertheless, the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), a unit of the Police Service of Northern Ireland set up to investigate unresolved murders, published a report on August 12 this year which categorically announced that McKavanagh was “an innocent man who did nothing more than pick up a pair of waders that had been stolen by someone else.”

MoD’s apology letter to the McKavanagh family constitutes one of the rare occasions on which the British government has formally accepted responsibility for the murder of detainees by soldiers in Northern Ireland.

“The government accepts that Billy McKavanagh was not a terrorist and that his death was a tragedy,” read the letter, which was written on behalf of new defence secretary, Philip Hammond.