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‘Tragic reminder of violent past conflict’
By Jilly Beattie, Chris Sherrard
18 April 2014
Dad-of-four gunned down on Springfield Road around 5pm after threats from former republican colleagues
Ex Continuity IRA chief Tommy Crossan was blasted to death in broad daylight on Friday evening.
The dad-of-four was shot seven times including once in the head by a gang who strong-armed him into a fuel depot in West Belfast.
Sources understand that prominent dissident republican Crossan was executed after he was accused by former colleagues of being a British agent and touting to the PSNI and MI5 about high-profile dissident republicans.
A gang of three men in a red BMW car are believed to have carried out the killing. It was found burnt-out two streets away minutes after the shooting.
The incident happened shortly before his daughter, Joanie, drove into the area to fill her car with diesel.
One local resident said: “It is terrible for his wife and children but other than that there’s little sympathy for Tommy Crossan on this street.
“You reap what you sow and he has been part of a wrecking ball in our community and now he is gone.
“He was warned.”
A heavy police presence filtered into the Springfield Road area at 5.15pm after the shooting.
Officers in a dozen police vehicles including members of the Tactical Support Group were at the scene and were on high alert. They helped escorted a cross-community group visiting the area moments after the shooting to safety.
As the PSNI helicopter maintained a presence overhead a large group of family and friends, many of them weeping, gathered outside the building where Crossan had met his bloody end.
Dozens of local children clambered around police vehicles demanding to know where the dead body was.
Fr Tony Devlin, the parish priest of St Paul’s Catholic Church on the Falls Road, gave the last rites.
The Lord Mayor of Belfast condemned the murder:
Máirtín Ó Muilleoir @newbelfast: Shame on those who bring death to Belfast streets at Eastertide. They represent no-one but themselves and have no place in our great city.
Crossan had been defying a death threat by rival dissident republicans since 2011.
He received the threat from former comrades when masked gunmen accused him of being a British agent and ordered him to leave. They threatened: “Get out of Ireland or be killed.”
But Crossan told a Belfast newspaper: “I’m going nowhere. My conscience is clear. I’m no tout and never would be. It goes against everything I believe.
“I haven’t stolen Continuity IRA money and I haven’t been involved in robberies. These liars are trying to criminalise me and drive me from my home. But I’m here to stay.”
Speaking from the scene SDLP Councillor Colin Keenan, who lives nearby this afternoon’s incident, said: “I condemn this murder completely and in doing so I reflect the view of all of the community.
“There is a real sense of shock that this has happened.
“I was on the scene shortly after this tragic event and I extend my heartfelt sympathy to the victim’s family.
“We have long hoped that the shadow of death had been lifted from West Belfast.
“Today’s event is a terrible, tragic reminder of the violent conflict of the past.”
Forensic experts were quickly on the scene of the murder.
Harwich and Manningtree Standard
18 April 2014
Dissident republican suspects in the killing of one of their former commanders in Belfast are “dinosaurs trapped in the past”, the city’s Lord Mayor said.
Ex-Continuity IRA (CIRA) figure Tommy Crossan, 43, was shot dead at a fuel depot in the grounds of an industrial complex in full view of surrounding houses. Three gunmen may have carried out the killing and a red BMW car was found on fire nearby.
A priest attended to pray over the bloodied victim in West Belfast, an area long known as a republican heartland but which has been relatively peaceful in recent years following the end of the IRA campaign in 1998.
Relatives gathered in tears at the scene, their devastation visible to onlookers.
First citizen Mairtin O Muilleoir of Sinn Fein said the killers existed in the dark margins of society but could not slow the pace of change in Belfast.
He claimed: “They are dinosaurs trapped in the past and I urge everyone to work with the police to remove them from our streets.”
Crossan was once the CIRA’s Belfast leader but was believed to be the subject of a death threat and had been expelled from the group some years ago after a fall out.
He served time in prison for conspiracy to murder Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers following a gun attack on a police station in West Belfast in 1998.
The CIRA has opposed the peace process which largely ended three decades of violence and transformed Northern Ireland. Crossan was killed on the 16th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which mandated political power-sharing at Stormont.
CIRA gunmen murdered Police Constable Stephen Carroll in Lurgan in Co Armagh in March 2009 but the organisation has since been riven with splits, security sources have suggested.
Friday afternoon’s attack happened at the Peter Pan Centre in Springfield Road, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said. Detectives have launched a murder investigation and are combing the scene for forensics clues.
Mr O’Muilleoir told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight: “There are some micro groups of criminals masquerading under an assortment of republican labels. They have no support within the community.
“I wouldn’t under any guise brand them ‘professional’ but they certainly are killers… They have nothing to offer to the people of Belfast.”
He said t here was a whole assortment of factions, and fractions of factions, of dissident republicanism and added every week produced another schism.
“Sadly they clearly have access to guns and they have murderous intent and they are willing to kill those with whom they disagree.”
The largely-nationalist area of Belfast where the shooting happened is mainly comprised of tightly-packed terraced housing estates and businesses.
Nationalist SDLP councillor Colin Keenan said it was a horrific scene.
“We have long hoped that the shadow of death had been lifted from West Belfast.
“Today’s event is a terrible, tragic reminder of the violent conflict of the past.”
The Springfield Road, one of the main arterial routes, was closed to traffic.
A PSNI spokeswoman said: “Detectives from Serious Crime Branch have launched a murder investigation after a man was shot dead in the Springfield Road area of West Belfast.”
Members of the security forces have been on high alert for attacks by various extremist factions who have also killed two soldiers and a prison officer.
In recent weeks they have stepped up efforts to kill police officers, with several attacks on the force in West Belfast.
After the murder of prison officer David Black on the M1 motorway in November 2012, police mounted an unprecedented surveillance operation against various factions as well making significant arrests.
Sinn Fein Stormont Assembly Member Jennifer McCann said t hose behind Crossan’s killing had no consideration for anyone in the community except themselves and their own criminal agenda.
She added: “They have shot a man dead and endangered anyone in the immediate vicinity.
“There is now a family in mourning and a community traumatised by this shooting.
“It will not go unnoticed that, with sadness, at Easter time as republicans gather to commemorate their patriot dead, that there are criminals on the streets masquerading as republicans for their own ends.
“This community does not want them. They need to listen to this community, stop these senseless actions and go away.”
David Ford, Northern Ireland’s justice minister, said the murder should be condemned by all.
Seldom-used law that put loyalist Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair behind bars in 1990s is used to charged 47-year-old man
18 May 2012
Anti-terrorist laws used to jail the top loyalist Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair have been used to charge a suspected republican dissident.
The 47-year-old from the Lurgan area of County Armagh will face charges of “directing acts of terrorism’ – a relatively unused piece of legislation that put Adair behind bars for several years in the 1990s.
The suspect, along with two other men aged 41 and 42, will appear at Lisburn magistrates court on Saturday morning. All three men face charges of conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to cause an explosion, the preparation of terrorist attacks and collecting information of use to terrorism, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said on Friday night.
The PSNI said the charges “are a result of an investigation led by police into dissident republican terrorist activity”.
A PSNI spokeswoman said the police had worked closely with colleagues in MI5 and the Public Prosecution Service to reach a point where charges had been brought.
The arrests in Lurgan centre on a suspected unit of the Continuity IRA, which has a small but active presence in the North Armagh area. The terror group was responsible in March 2009 for murdering the PSNI officer Stephen Carroll.
The “directing acts of terrorism” charge is highly controversial and has been criticised by some civil liberties groups in the past. Under the legislation a suspect can be arrested and held on remand and then face charges on the word of a senior police commander from the rank of superintendent who will tell the court he or she believes the person detained is directing terrorist organisations.
Meanwhile, three men and a woman remain in custody after arrests in Carrickmore, Toome, Omagh and Pomeroy as part of a drive by the security forces against dissident republican terrorist groups opposed to the peace process and power sharing in Northern Ireland.
The detentions in counties Tyrone and Antrim are part of a parallel security operation against a breakaway faction of the Real IRA with a stronghold in the east Tyrone area.
North Belfast News
2 Apr 2012
Solicitors acting for the families of two men murdered in Belfast five years ago have written to the Public Prosecution Service to ask for a meeting with its new director Barra McGrory. The families of murder victims Eddie Burns and Joe Jones want to raise concerns with the new director about the way the men’s cases have been handled to date.
Ardoyne man Eddie Burns was shot dead by members of the CIRA at Milltown off the Falls Road in the early hours of March 12 2007. Hours later Joe Jones was lured to a house in Ardoyne by the gang before being viciously beaten and then murdered with a spade in an entry at Elmfield St.
The CIRA gang behind the attacks had been drinking heavily and had taken drugs in the run-up to the murders.
On the fifth anniversary of the murders the families spoke out about failures in the efforts to bring the men’s killers to justice and said they felt let down by the system.
“Five years on from these particularly horrific murders no one has yet been brought to justice,” said Joe Jones’ brother Peter.
“It’s our view that there have been failures in the investigation and we intend to challenge both the police and the Public Prosecution Services both north and south.
“We are concerned that the police may have been prevented from doing their job by the intelligence services.”
Kathleen Burns, mother of Eddie, said that the families are determined to get justice. “There is now a new director of the Public Prosecution Service. We are calling on Barra McGrory to review the evidence and to look afresh at the police investigations. This is only the beginning of our campaign to bring to justice those who carried out these brutal murders and those who covered them up.
“We have instructed our solicitor Joe Rice to ask the PPS for this fresh meeting and we will raise a number of concerns we have about the case to date.”
30 Mar 2012
Constable Carroll was murdered after answering a 999 call
Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, was the first police officer to be killed in Northern Ireland since the formation of the PSNI.
He was shot dead after terrorists lured police to a call-out in Lismore Manor in Craigavon on the night of the 9 March 2009.
At the time the dissident republican group, the Continuity IRA, claimed they were responsible for the shooting.
Constable Carroll who was originally from the Republic of Ireland, but who had moved to England as a child, was a married man with a son and grandchildren who lived in the Banbridge area of County Down.
He had served in the police force for more than 24 years.
Former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, and John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan, were charged with his murder in May 2011.
They were also charged with possessing an AK47 assault rifle and ammunition allegedly used in the shooting at Lismore Manor.
John Paul Wootton also denied attempting to collect information on “a certain police constable” and his home address, likely to be of use to terrorists between January and March 2009.
The prosecution argued when the trial began in January that DNA and other evidence could link the two men to the Mr Carroll’s murder.
They claimed Mr Wootton’s car was parked close to the scene of the attack and drove off within minutes of the killing.
A prosecution barrister said that Mr McConville’s DNA was found on a brown jacket removed from the boot of the car and he claimed gun residue was also discovered on the coat.
A scientist told the court that DNA on three separate sites on a brown jacket found in the boot of Mr Wootton’s car had a one in a billion chance of belonging to anyone other than Mr McConville.
Despite Mr McConville’s protestations that he did not own the jacket, Faye Southam said that in her opinion “the findings are more likely to be obtained if he was the regular wearer of the jacket”.
Her evidence was rejected by defence lawyers who argued that the coat which had Mr McConville’s DNA on it, which was found in the alleged getaway car, could have been worn by up to five other people.
The prosecution’s key evidence against Mr McConville came from a man known only as Witness M, who told the court that he had been out walking his dog on the night of the murder, and saw Mr McConville at the scene of shooting – ”the firing point” – which was at waste ground to the back of the Lismore Manor Estate and around 50 metres from where Constable Carroll had parked his patrol car.
The prosecution said this was a clear case of recognition, that Witness M had known Mr McConville since he was young, recognised him, could describe what he was wearing and that they had even ”communicated with each other”.
The defence however described Witness M as a “Walter Mitty-type character who liked to tell tales”.
They say he lied to the court ”at least twice and maybe even three times” about issues with his eyesight, and that he had changed his account of what he claims to have seen that night on four separate occasions.
Constable Stephen Paul Carroll, 48, was from Banbridge Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, was the first police officer to be killed since the formation of the PSNI
The defence team had argued that the evidence was unfair to Mr McConville and should be thrown out, but the judge said, even if it was unfair, it was still admissible.
The prosecution alleged that the murder weapon, an AK-47 assault rifle from Eastern Europe, which was recovered by police from under an oil tank in a house in the Pinebank area of Craigavon, had been wrapped in the jacket when or shortly after it was fired.
They also alleged that gun residue was found on another coat discovered in a search of Mr McConville’s house at Glenholm Avenue, Craigavon.
However, an explosives expert strongly criticised the prosecution team.
The forensic scientist, who was a defence witness, said he has been constantly frustrated and found it very difficult to do his job due to the “shifting sands of the prosecution”.
He said they were inconsistent. The witness was especially critical of two forensic scientists who were prosecution witnesses and who had examined the murder weapon.
He said he was at a loss to understand why the gun had not been cleaned before it was test fired and that the lack of control in the experiments invalidated any results.
The scientist also told Belfast Crown Court that since 2006 the FBI has not used gunshot residue evidence in its cases due to the variability of results.
The court was also told that a special army intelligence unit had placed a GPS (global tracking system) into Mr Wootton’s car at some point prior to the shooting.
This, the prosecution argued, tracked the whereabouts of Mr Wootton’s car that night and showed the vehicle close to the scene at the time of the murder.
It also emerged that the tracking device was ”wiped”, and that data from the hours after the killing was lost.
Three soldiers gave evidence anonymously and failed to explain how the data was deleted from the device.
The court also heard that the army had been “very reluctant” to hand over the data from the device to the police, and that “negotiations involving the chief constable and maybe even above that level”, had taken place.
Eventually the army gave the data to detectives, but only after the PSNI had threatened to seize it under warrant.
Defence lawyers argued the prosecution case was weak and inconclusive and called for the trial to be stopped due to a lack of evidence.
They argued said “a jury must convict on substance rather than suspicion”, while the prosecution argued evidence was ”strong” and that the accused had “planned and participated in the killing”.
Defence QC Brendan Kelly for Mr McConville submitted that even if Witness M could put Mr McConville at the scene prior to the shooting, what evidence was there that he “was up to no good”.
Mr Kelly described the identification evidence as poor, and argued that a jury properly directed could not convict, unless there was supporting evidence, which he claimed the prosecution failed to produce.
Arthur Harvey QC, for Mr Wootton in opening his final submissions claimed there was a breakdown, a distortion in the forensic evidence, over a coat found in his car and the legal proofs absolutely essential to link it with the shooting and Mr Wootton.
Two men were found guilty and jailed for life today for the murder of a police officer shot dead by dissident republicans in Northern Ireland.
30 Mar 2012
(L-R) Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton (Photo: PA)
Brendan McConville, 40, and John Paul Wootton, 20, were convicted by Lord Justice Paul Girvan at Belfast Crown Court for their part in the ambush of Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Constable Stephen Carroll.
The officer, aged 48, from Banbridge, County Down, was the first policeman killed by Republican terrorists since the peace process reforms which saw the Royal Ulster Constabulary replaced by the new-look PSNI.
Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Continuity IRA.
Some relatives wept as McConville, of Aldervale, Tully Gally, and Wootton, of Collingdale, Lurgan, County Armagh, heard the judge pass sentence at the end of a judgment which took more than two hours to deliver.
Constable Carroll’s widow Kate embraced her son Shane as the verdicts were read out.
Outside the courtroom she hugged her husband’s police colleagues who had helped to investigate his murder.
The judge described the killing of Constable Carroll as a “callous and cowardly crime”.
Wootton was also convicted of collecting information for the use of terrorism.
He was found guilty of trying to obtain the address of another policeman weeks before the murder.
Constable Carroll was shot dead two days after two British soldiers were murdered in a Real IRA gun attack outside their barracks in Antrim town.
He died of a single gunshot wound to the head sustained as he sat in an unmarked police car while colleagues attended a 999 call in the Lismore Manor area.
The prosecution claimed he was lured to his death.
A brick had been thrown through the window of a house in the private development an hour earlier, prompting the occupants to call the police.
Lord Justice Girvan took three weeks to assess the evidence ahead of delivering his reserved judgments.
During the trial, Wootton’s mother – 39-year-old Sharon Wootton, of the same address as her son – plead guilty to obstructing the police investigation into the murder.
She admitted removing computer equipment from their house ahead of police searches.
Kate Carroll told the Press Association outside court: “I’m very happy that this is all over.
“I’m so relieved. It’s been such an ordeal.
“I found the last two hours (as she listened to the judge delivering his verdict) extremely gruelling.”
16 Mar 2012
Hundreds of mothers wearing white will form a human chain across Derry’s Peace Bridge in a silent protest against Republican Action Against Drugs today.
A core group of mothers have formed a new organisation called MOVE ON — Mothers Opposing Violence Everywhere in Our Neighbourhoods — and are using Mother’s Day weekend to launch their first public event but they will also patrol the streets where RAAD is active.
The protest is the third rally sparked after the vigilante group ordered the parents of four young men to bring their sons to a designated area in the town to be shot because they were allegedly involved in a fracas outside a bar with members of RAAD.
That followed the fatal shooting of Derry man Andy Allen in Co Donegal.
One of the founder members of MOVE ON, Bronach McMonagle, said the women of Derry have historically played a vital role in bringing about change in the city.
She said: “This new group came about because of the increasing bully-boy antics of RAAD who thought it was acceptable to give four mothers an appointed time and location to bring their sons to so that they could be shot.
“What does it say about the direction our society is going when mothers are told this by gun-toting bullies?
“We are not going let them do this — no one has that authority.
“The rally held in Creggan last week and the follow-up rally in the Guildhall Square against RAAD showed the strength of feeling there is against them in the city and we didn’t want to lose that momentum which is why, given that it is Mother’s Day on Sunday, we hastily organised this rally across the Peace Bridge.”
She added: “We want as many people as possible to gather at the cityside end of the bridge, wearing a white t-shirt.
“We will link hands and just silently make our feelings known.
“We will release white balloons too but there will be no speeches and it won’t take more than half an hour.
“Like everyone else, the mothers of Derry have had enough of RAAD and once Friday’s protest is over it will not be the end of this organisation.
“There are alternative solutions to what RAAD say they are offering to deal with.
“There are funded organisations in place which help people with drug and alcohol problems but we will patrol our own streets too where we will engage with the young people.
“The mothers of Derry took to the streets before and brought about change and we will do it again, peacefully, the way it should be done.”
A link between Republican Action Against Drugs and the dissident Continuity IRA has recently emerged. Information obtained by the Belfast Telegraph showed the group has been trading weapons with the CIRA. Documents revealed it was behind the supply of a number of grenades to the dissidents in exchange for guns. A later swap of more grenades was made for ammunition. At least one of the grenades was used in an attack on police in west Belfast.
North Belfast News
12 Mar 2012
The families of two men brutally murdered in Belfast five years ago are to finally break their silence at a press conference next week. The press conference is being organised by the families of Joe Jones and Eddie Burns on the fifth anniversary of their murders, at 10am next Monday 12 March at Conway Mill.
The two men, who were previously members of the CIRA, had split from the group and set up their own grouping named the Irish Peoples Liberation Army (IPLA). They were thought to have been killed in a dispute over money and weapons.
Ardoyne man Eddie Burns was lured from his home by a CIRA gang, who had been drinking heavily and taking drugs in the hours before the murder. The gang kidnapped Mr Burns and shot him dead in the Bog Meadows, also wounding another man, Damien O’Neill at the scene.
The gang then went to Ardoyne where they murdered west Belfast man Joe Jones. The killers beat Mr Jones repeatedly with a spade in an entry in Elmfield Street in Ardoyne almost decapitating him.
A west Belfast man Gerard Mackin was initially found guilty of the murder in a Dublin court but was released following an appeal and a retrial.
The press conference is being organised by the families in conjunction with Relatives for Justice and Community Restorative Justice Ireland.
Joe Jones’ brother Peter said the families had maintained a dignified silence during the investigation but felt the time is now right to speak out.
“Five years into the investigation into the brutal murders of Eddie and Joe we feel that we have been let down by the justice system, North and South,” he said.
“It is now time for our concerns about the case to be heard and it’s for this reason that we are organising this press conference five years to the day our loved ones were murdered.”
Harry Maguire of CRJI said they have been working along with RFJ to support the families.
“We have been working with the families offering them community support during what has been a very traumatic period in their lives,” he said.
“They have a number of concerns about the sheer brutality of the murders, those involved in covering up and aiding the killers, and about failures into the investigation into the murders.”
The press conference will start at 10am sharp on Monday at the Conway Mill.
22 Feb 2012
The alleged commander of the Continuity IRA in mid-Ulster refused to answer police questions about the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll, a court has heard.
Belfast Crown Court heard Eddie Breen was arrested last February but remained silent during police interviews. He was later released without charge.
John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan and Brendan McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, both deny murder.
Constable Carroll was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009, after responding to a 999 call.
On Wednesday, a transcript of a police interview was read to the court which outlined the accusations put to Eddie Breen by a detective.
It included that he had planned the murder and fired the gun.
The court was also told that a partial print on the magazine of the AK47 gun used in the killing matched neither Mr Breen nor Mr McConville.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Mr Wootton said his client was in his car in the area at the time of the killing, but was with a friend collecting a Chinese takeaway.
A police officer said that Mr Wootton had changed his statement about his movements which had been recorded on a tracking device hidden on his car by an Army intelligence unit.
The trial continues.
2 Feb 2012
A man has been named in Belfast Crown Court as the leader of the Continuity IRA in Craigavon.
It happened during the trial of two men accused of murdering Constable Stephen Carroll.
Constable Carroll was the first PSNI officer to be murdered when he was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009.
A detective said a decision was taken not to arrest the alleged dissident leader in order to protect a key prosecution witness – Witness M.
He denied claims that the alleged Continuity IRA leader – named by a defence lawyer as Eddie Breen – was an informer.
Brendan McConville, 40, from Aldervale, Tullygally and John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan, deny murdering Constable Carroll.
Witness M has said he spotted 40-year-old Mr McConville at the scene shortly before the shooting.
He told the police that he was 90% sure he had seen Mr Breen with Mr McConville, but later changed that to being 50% sure.
It emerged that Mr Breen was arrested 11 months after the killing and later released.
Witness M also said he was threatened to “keep his mouth shut”, and Belfast Crown Court heard claims on Thursday that these threats were carried out by Mr Breen.
Mr Breen was not rearrested after Witness M told the police about the threats.
When asked why, the detective leading the investigation said arresting him would have put Witness M’s family in grave danger.
He denied allegations that the police were protecting Mr Breen because he was an informer.
Accused of lying
Earlier, the defence lawyer accused Witness M of deliberately lying to the court.
Giving evidence by videolink, Witness M told the court in Belfast on Wednesday that he saw Mr McConville standing close to where the prosecution claims the gun was fired 30 minutes later.
He said he had been out walking his dog at the time.
He told the court he had no problems with his eyesight and only wears glasses as a fashion accessory.
However, it has since emerged that he is short sighted and on Thursday in court, he admitted needing glasses for reading.
When asked why he lied under oath he replied: “I didn’t.”
The barrister asked: “How many lies do you have to tell as you go along… you say the person I represent was close to the scene of a murder.”
Witness M replied: “Some things like that you don’t forget.”
Under cross examination the man also revealed that he was treated by a psychologist and was about £11,000 in debt before he entered the witness protection programme.
The court heard that the PSNI pays Witness M £1,400 a month via the programme. They also cover his child care costs and his accommodation.
The trial continues.
By Ken Foy
January 12 2012
**Interesting that this article says the gun was NOT loaded.
Two senior members of the Continuity IRA were arrested when armed gardai stopped a car and seized a loaded revolver.
THE two Dubliners were still being questioned today after members of the Regional Response Unit stopped their car at Ballincurra Weston, Limerick, yesterday.
The two suspects in custody today are senior Continuity IRA figure Dermot Gannon (45) from Mulhuddart and a 44-year-old Ballyfermot man who is a close associate of a Republican who survived a gun attack in September.
Sources believe the arrests will “strike a major blow against the Continuity IRA”.
Gannon of Wellview Crescent, Mulhuddart, was the first person to be convicted of membership of an illegal organisation under the 1998 Offences Against the State Act — legislation which was enacted in the aftermath of the Omagh bomb.
He was sentenced to four years in prison at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin in May, 2001. When the sentence was handed down, Gannon gave a clenched-fist salute and shouted: “Up Oglaigh na hEireann, you w******!” as he was led from the dock.
Evidence was given in the case that gardai believed that Gannon was the leader of a Continuity IRA unit in Dublin in charge of gathering and storing weapons. Special Branch detectives had raided Gannon’s home in October 1999 and found berets, four CB radios, army fatigues, and a forged driver’s licence.
Also arrested in Limerick yesterday evening was a very close associate of Frank Nolan — the well known Republican who survived an assassination attempt in September.
Just last weekend, Frank Nolan gave the oration at the annual Sean South commemoration in Limerick’s Mount St Lawrence Cemetery.
Nolan spent a number of days in hospital in September after he was was gunned down on Oranmore Road in Ballyfermot as he walked home from collecting his social welfare at a local post office.
13 Jan 2012
Two dissident republicans connected to the Continuity IRA were being questioned by gardai last night after they were arrested with a revolver.
The two men from Dublin — aged 45 and 44 — were arrested at Beechgrove Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston in Limerick city by the Regional Support Unit after a gun was found in their car on Wednesday evening.
The revolver was not loaded.
Earlier this week, the pair were among 300 people who attended the annual Sean South commemoration in Limerick, which was addressed by Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald.
Tuesday, 3 January 2012
Penetration by the Security Service, MI5, and a switch to anti-capitalist targets has tempered the renegade republican threat – for now. Henry McDonald reports
Don’t say it too loud, but in the second half of 2011 the disparate factions of anti-ceasefire republicanism have been relatively quiet.
So does this inaction reflect recent successes for the security forces? Or does the lack of armed activities since the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr in April suggest a revision, or a rethink, in the strategies of the Continuity IRA, Real IRA or Oghlaigh na hEireann?
In terms of the first question, the most obvious place to look at is the Republic and, in particular, Dublin. Across the Republic’s capital, at least two of the hardline republican groups are engaged in diversionary struggles both among themselves and with criminal gangs in the city.
The Continuity IRA in Dublin insists it remains united, but there is a breakaway grouping which also has a base in Limerick city that is engaged in a shooting war with its larger rival.
This splintering has recently spread north into Maghaberry jail, with five republican inmates moved out of the main house holding dissident prisoners.
Their departure – under threat of death – is being linked to the battle between the CIRA and former colleagues. Given what we know about the often amoral and manipulative nature of the security forces’ secret ‘war’ against armed republican factions, it is not too fanciful to find the origins of this latest feuding as the work of agent provocateurs in the pay of the state.
What is undoubtedly clear is that the Garda Siochana has made significant in-roads into the main dissident movements on the other side of the border, particularly in the capital.
Judging by the number of arrests in the south of dissident suspects and the terror operations the Garda thwarted this year, it is obvious that this is all in large part due to the recruitment of informers in the organisation’s ranks.
All the security analyses to date concur with the view that the Garda has made serious intelligence in-roads into the three main terror groups.
After Christmas, the Garda reported that the threat from armed non-political criminal gangs is now a greater threat to law and order than the dissidents.
Over the last decade, up to 200 people have been killed in the crime-wars blighting working-class districts of greater Dublin and Limerick – most of which remain unsolved.
This gangland war has been boosted by a new mini-industry: the sub-contracting of hitmen and bomb-makers formerly linked to terrorist organisations now working for the crime-gangs.
Many ex-terrorists capable of close-quarter killings, or building bombs, have found more lucrative careers as crime sub-contractors, rather than inside the ranks of the anti-ceasefire republican movements.
Of course, the greatest barrier to the anti-peace process republicans remains the nationalist population, in particular within Northern Ireland.
While there has been some worrying signs of support among economically and socially-alienated republican youth for the dissidents, the overwhelming majority of nationalists back the political settlement at Stormont and still vote for Sinn Fein.
The dissident guerrilla is, therefore, swimming in very shallow water with few outlets for logistical help and support from their host communities.
The other main reason for a downturn in dissident terrorism in the second half of 2011, posited at the start of this piece, may also have some validity.
In an interview with the Real IRA back in the early autumn, amid bellicose threats to bankers and the banking system, there was a telling comment on the internal debate ongoing within all strands of dissident republicanism.
The Real IRA representative revealed that there were discussions about the future, including the efficacy of the ‘armed struggle’.
There was a passing remark that some were arguing for a more economically-driven campaign against strategic capitalist targets like the banks – a kind of Irish Baader-Meinhoff-style of Leftist terrorism for the 21st century.
Those advocating such a departure are clearly hoping to capitalise on the widespread hatred directed at the banks and other capitalist institutions on the island.
This is why the Real IRA admitted a few months ago that it targeted the Santander bank in explosions at Derry and Newry this year as it seeks to identify itself with growing anti-capitalist sentiment.
There was even a hint that some within the dissident groups were questioning the continuation of the armed campaigns, with some arguing for a purely political struggle aimed (somewhat optimistically perhaps) at challenging Sinn Fein’s hegemony.
It is difficult to determine if one representative from only one of the disparate factions was accurately reflecting the mixed state of thinking within dissident republicanism.
But clearly there are debates going both inside the terror groups and among those who have renounced ‘armed struggle’ but still oppose Sinn Fein’s political strategy.
Whether this will produce a new peace process aimed at winding down the dissidents’ ‘war’ is open to question.
Certainly, the more fundamentalist republican organisations, like CIRA, remain wedded almost in a theocratic-article of faith way to continuing ‘armed struggle’.
All of the organisations opposed to the political settlement at Stormont remain for now incoherent, divided, often fractious and that alone is still cause for hope to those that want to keep Northern Ireland stable.
By Ken Foy, Crime correspondent
December 19 2011
WOMAN found with bullets in handbag on way to kill target.
A female assassin who was caught with bullets in her handbag as she was on the way to carry out a second murder in a fortnight holds the key to smashing the Continuity IRA terror organisation.
The Limerick woman, who has admitted murdering David Darcy (39) outside his home in Cherry Orchard, Ballyfermot, last month, has been in garda custody since being arrested by heavily armed detectives last Thursday night.
Gardai believe that she was on her way to murder another Cherry Orchard man who lives close to dad-of-two Mr Darcy when she was intercepted by gardai.
Three people, including the woman, remain in garda custody as officers try to keep a lid on what sources describe as “the most dangerous feud to emerge in years.”
Well over 100 gardai are working around the clock to keep a lid on the bitter gang war which started when Continuity IRA member Liam Kenny was shot dead at his Clondalkin home in June.
“If this goes to plan gardai will be able to destroy the entire CIRA network in the country,” said a source.
Liam Kenny’s associates blamed one of Ireland’s most senior crime lords for his murder as well as the non-fatal gun attack on Kenny’s close associate Frank Nolan in Ballyfermot in September.
The crime lord at war with the CIRA is aged in his 50s and is based in Ballyfermot. He controls the illegal cigarette trade in Ireland and has made millions of euro from smuggling cigarettes into Ireland.
In an upsurge in tensions, the CIRA planted a huge bomb outside his Ballyfermot home last week but it is understood that weather conditions prevented the bomb from exploding.
It is understood that the crime lord discovered the bomb and disposed of it himself.
Gardai also learnt of a plot by the CIRA to blow up a car owned by one of the crimelord’s closest associates.
A source explained: “This is a very serious situation – the levels of hatred here are quite astonishing.
“The CIRA have declared war on the Ballyfermot man – they accuse him of being a drug dealer. They shot David Darcy because they say that Darcy is linked to this man.
“They say that Darcy provided information that led to the murder of Liam Kenny.”
The Herald has learnt that the gang boss is furious that the CIRA mob would try to target him in a bomb attack and he has taken extra security precautions.
It has emerged that a handgun and a shotgun were used to murder David Darcy and these weapons have been recovered by gardai.
As well as the female assassin, gardai are continuing to question her boyfriend.
He is a 44-year-old senior Continuity IRA figure from Mullhuddart, west Dublin, who has previously served a four year sentence for membership of the dissident republican group.
Also in custody today is another man from Mulhuddart who officers believe provided “logistical support” for the Darcy murder.
By Tom Brady and Luke Byrne
December 01 2011
GARDAI are sceptical of a claim that the Continuity IRA was responsible for Monday’s murder of van driver David D’Arcy in the driveway of his home in Dublin.
And the dead man’s family has categorically rejected the suggestion that the father of two was shot dead by the renegade republicans because he was linked to a drugs gang.
A statement purporting to have been issued by the dissidents accused Mr D’Arcy of supplying information which led to the murder of Liam Kenny, described by them as ‘officer commanding’ the Continuity IRA in west Dublin in June — and also to the shooting of an anti-drugs activist.
It also indicated that the dissidents had identified six members of this criminal gang.
However, senior garda officers said they had no information to support any of the allegations and they were sceptical of the statement and the suggestion that it had been issued on behalf of the Continuity IRA.
Mr D’Arcy was shot three times in the head and body as he sat behind the wheel of his employer’s van outside his home at Cherry Orchard Avenue in Ballyfermot at 6.50am on Monday.
Gardai have not established any firm motives for his murder, although they are pursuing a number of lines of inquiry.
However, there is no information, gathered either before or after the murder, to indicate that the 39-year-old victim was involved with any criminal or dissident republican group.
The allegations were also rejected by his son, David junior, on behalf of the family. He said the allegations were “not true, not true at all”.
Liam Kenny, regarded by anti-terrorist gardai as a significant member of the Continuity IRA in the capital, was shot dead in early June through the front door of his home in Clondalkin.
Gardai believe that he was murdered by a west Dublin drugs gang after he had driven them out of the area.
Meanwhile, officers investigating Monday’s murder have stepped up their inquiries in Limerick, where the getaway car used by Mr D’Arcy’s killers was stolen on November 23.
The dark-blue Opel Astra was taken in the Hilltop area of the city, near St Patrick’s Road. After the murder, it was found burnt out at Inagh Road, Ballyfermot.
Mr D’Arcy made regular trips to Limerick to deliver meat to local butchers and gardai are trying to establish if his murder is linked to any incident there.
Masked gunmen last week accused Tommy Crossan, the Continuity IRA’s former Belfast commander, of being a British agent. They also claimed he’d carried out unauthorised robberies, and had stolen hundreds of thousands of pounds from the terror group.
“Get out of Ireland or be killed,” they warned him. But last night, Crossan told the Sunday World: “I’m going nowhere. My conscience is clear. I’m no tout and never would be. It goes against everything I believe.
“I haven’t stolen Continuity IRA money and I haven’t been involved in robberies. These liars are trying to criminalise me and drive me from my home. But I’m here to stay.”
Despite the death threat from his former comrades, Crossan (40) walked openly through the streets of his native West Belfast sporting a tattoo on his right arm, ‘Only God can judge me’.
Posing for photographs at a republican mural, the unemployed-father-of-four said: “I was born and bred in St James, off the Falls. Apart from my years in jail as a POW, I’ve lived here all my life. I’m not running away now.”
Two years ago, CIRA murdered PSNI constable Stephen Carroll in Lurgan. It has since been riven with splits. Last week, Sunday World was taken to a secret location in Belfast where three masked men appeared – two armed with hand-guns. They said they represented the group’s leadership.
They read out a statement claiming Crossan had been court-martialled, found guilty of ‘crimes’ and expelled from CIRA. They warned he’d be executed if he didn’t flee the country.
One of the gunmen stated: “I’d love to put him down a hole.” The second gunman said the leadership was wrong to give Crossan the chance to leave Ireland alive: “If it was up to me, I’d put a bullet I his head and leave him like a teabag by the side of the road.”
But Crossan told the Sunday World: “I’m not afraid. The people who threatened me are clowns and criminals operating to a British agenda. They aren’t soldiers of any republican army. They don’t even have the courage to show their faces. I’m here now in front of you. I’m not hiding behind any mask.”
Minutes after Sunday World spoke to Crossan, a man who said he was the Dublin spokesman for CIRA’s Army Council appeared. He stated: “The people who threatened Tommy don’t represent us.
“They were expelled from the army for their own dirty deeds. If anything happens to Tommy Crossan, the Continuity IRA will retaliate. Let his enemies be under no illusion – we won’t stand idly. Tommy Crossan wasn’t court-martialled by us. That’s an invention by a small bunch of Belfast criminals.”
Crossan said that hours before the death threat was revealed in Sunday World, the PSNI had summoned him to Grosvenor Road station: “They told me they’d intelligence that dissident republicans were going to murder me.”
The three masked men had accused Crossan of “setting up robbery squads” and using the proceeds to line his own pockets rather than buy guns for CIRA. They claimed he’d orchestrated tiger kidnapping and robbed local bookies, shops and cafes, including small businesses owned by ex-prisoners.
Crossan said: “It’s all lies. I hardly ever leave the house. If I’ve stolen hundreds of thousands, why have I a very ordinary lifestyle? I haven’t a pot to piss in. As far as I’m aware, no court martial was held and I wasn’t found guilty of anything.
“If there was a court martial, these thugs – who represent nobody but themselves- must have held it in secret. They don’t have the balls to put their allegations to my face. What sort of justice is that? They’re intent on destroying me and my name.”
Crossan claimed his accusers were trying to turn other groups like the Real IRA and independent republicans against him: “The republican community will decide who is telling the truth. I’ve every confidence they’ll make the right choice.”
Crossan denied claims he’d pocketed £8,500 for himself that CIRA had secured from blackmailing a young Belfast businessman who was drug-dealing.
The three masked men had claimed Crossan was an informer who had been spotted with his handlers at Shaw’s Bridge. They said the allegation was raised at a support meeting for republican prisoners in Belfast earlier this year.
They claimed when Crossan was challenged about the alleged sighting, “he turned white and never returned to another prisoner’s meeting”. Crossan told Sunday World: “Last year, I was told by police that a newspaper was about to print an article saying I’d been meeting police in Belfast and my life was in danger.
“I was up-front with other republicans and told them what the cops had said. The allegation was untrue – I’ve never secretly met police. But it’s been circulated by the Provos who want to discredit me and cause splits among dissident republicans.”
Crossan acknowledged he’d stopped attending prisoners’ meetings earlier this year “but because of all the back-stabbing going on around the prisoners’ issue – not because anybody called me a tout”.
He denied any dealings with MI5: “Like every other republican, I want the Brits out of Ireland. Informers are traitors – they’re the lowest of the low.”
Crossan served five years in Maghaberry for a 1999 gun attack on Woodbourne RUC station. He was the CIRA prisoners’ commander in the jail where he was regularly assaulted by loyalists. In 2008, he received a suspended sentence for involvement in a plot to extort £50,000 from a Dungannon businessman.
Crossan rejected claims from his accusers that when he was previously CIRA’s Belfast commander, he’d ordered that weapons be lifted from arms’ dumps across the city and stored centrally in another CIRA member’s flat – where they were swiftly seized by police. “I never gave any such order,” he said.
He also denied that when previously Belfast commander, he had “run CIRA into the ground” by banning attacks on the security forces. “If CIRA was inactive then, it was because it was engaged in a building process and wasn’t ready for military attacks,” he said.
Crossan insisted that his paramilitary activity was “very much in the distant past” and he was now “purely a political activist”.
August 8, 2011
This article appeared in the August 7, 2011 edition of the Sunday World.