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Sunday, 09 December 2012
The mural to Pat Finucane was unveiled in west Belfast on Sunday.
The family of Pat Finucane has gathered at a new mural in memory of the murdered solicitor, days before a report into his death is published.
Mr Finucane was shot dead by loyalist gunmen who forced their way into his north Belfast home in February 1989.
A report into the death of the Catholic father of three, conducted by Sir Desmond de Silva, will be published on Wednesday. On the same day Prime Minister David Cameron will make a statement to the House of Commons.
On Sunday, a mural was unveiled on Beechmount Avenue in west Belfast, close to where the 38-year-old grew up.
His widow Geraldine told UTV the Finucane family is still calling for a full independent public inquiry into the murder.
“We’ve not participated in this review. We don’t know anything that went on. We don’t know who he has spoken to. We don’t know what he’s seen – and we won’t know,” she said.
“I do know that there will be no recommendations made in this report.”
Mrs Finucane said Sir de Silva told her that his report would contain “hard-hitting conclusions”.
“But we do know that he was shown sensitive material and he agreed not to put it in the report. That doesn’t inspire us with confidence,” she added.
She welcomed the new mural which she said was painted in “part of Pat’s community”.
“It’s very important that he’s recognised in his own community by the people. I’m delighted with the mural. It’s lovely,” she commented.
“We do feel that this report will only further our calls for the public inquiry rather than diminish them.”
Mr Finucane’s youngest son, John, said the unveiling of the mural had come at a very appropriate time for his family. He added they will read the de Silva report “with an open mind”.
The Finucanes will travel to London this week to view the results of Sir de Silva’s inquiry, which cost £1.5m.
It was ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron, who has admitted collusion took place and apologised to Mr Finucane’s family.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was also at the event to show the Finucane family his support.
Mr Adams said the community in west Belfast knows what happened to Mr Finucane.
“This community knows that collusion was an administrative practice,” he commented.
“The family’s demand is very, very reasonable and I would call again on David Cameron and on the Irish government to use its influence on David Cameron to make sure that – regardless of the outcome of this DeSilva review -the family have the fully independent inquiry that they are looking for,” said Mr Adams.
25 July 2012
The existence of previously undisclosed PSNI intelligence documents which claim a member of An Garda Síochána in Dundalk passed information to the IRA was revealed at the Smithwick Tribunal today.
PSNI Det Chief Supt Roy McComb said the PSNI and British security services had decided to reveal the existence of five new documents, which had been compiled during the course of the tribunal’s inquiries.
The tribunal is inquiring into allegations of Garda and IRA collusion in the murders of two RUC officers chief Supt Harry Breen and supt Bob Buchanan in March 1989.
Mr McComb provided summaries of the new intelligence documents to the tribunal and said the originals were being retained on the grounds of British national security.
Four of the summaries claimed a member of Dundalk gardai passed information to the IRA. The fifth said a Dundalk garda named as Jim Lane had repeatedly warned of inappropriate relationships between members of the IRA and Dundalk sergeants Leo Colton, Finbarr Hickey and Det Sgt Owen Corrigan.
While the first two documents made reference to “a detective” member of the Garda in Dundalk who was said to be passing information to the IRA, Mr McComb’s summary said the detective officer was “not publicly associated with the Smithwick Tribunal”.
Document three referred to separate information that “a senior” member of the Garda in Dundalk provided information to assist the IRA in the 1989 murders of the RUC officers.
Document four referred to “additional information” that a member of Dundalk Garda provided information which “enabled” the murders of the two RUC officers.
Under cross examination by Michael Durack SC for An Garda Síochána, Mr McComb said he was “not in a position” to say why the information had not been provided to the tribunal before its closing stages.
Mr McComb acknowledged an original decision had been taken by somebody unknown “not to share” the information contained in the documents. He had become aware of it in the last few days, he said.
Jim O’Callaghan SC for Mr Corrigan told the tribunal it was clear from the summaries of documents one and two that the PSNI and or the British security services had “exculpatory” information about his client’s alleged involvement in the murders of Mr Breen and Mr Buchanan, and had decided at least initially not to share it.
He said the tribunal had spent about 100 days discussing a previous piece of police service intelligence, which he said had been described as “tittle tattle”, which named his client. But he said here was intelligence described by the security services as “accurate and reliable” which was exculpatory to his client and it had been withheld.
12 Mar 2012
SOME ACCOUNTS of collusion between members of the Garda and the IRA may be excluded from the Smithwick Tribunal’s final report, Judge Peter Smithwick has warned.
In an interim report sent to the clerk of the Dáil at the weekend, Judge Smithwick said he was “most concerned” that “highly relevant and potentially significant” information may have to be ignored.
He said British intelligence sources gave information orally to the tribunal in private session, but he now needed it to be put on the record in a formal context.
The judge said the information was central to the tribunal’s terms of reference, which are to inquire into allegations that members of An Garda Síochána or other employees of the State colluded with the IRA in the murders of two RUC officers in March 1989.
Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were killed in an IRA ambush in south Armagh just after leaving a meeting with a senior garda in Dundalk. They were the highest ranking members of the RUC to be killed by paramilitaries during the Troubles.
Judge Smithwick said if agreement cannot be reached to put the information before the tribunal as formal evidence, “there is nothing further the tribunal can do in relation to the matter and I will simply have to proceed to make my findings and recommendations based on the evidence that has been put before me without reference to, or inference from, the aforementioned intelligence information”.
Separately the judge expressed his disappointment that the British intelligence agent Ian Hurst, also known as Martin Ingram, has not given evidence. Because of security implications it was agreed with the British ministry of defence that he could give evidence in private session. “However Mr Hurst . . . is refusing to give evidence unless he can do so in public,” Judge Smithwick said.
The Smithwick Tribunal was set up in 2005 and public sessions began last June. Its first interim report came out on June 29th but no formal findings or recommendations have been made.
In this second interim report the judge said that, since public hearings began, publicity has encouraged additional witnesses to come forward. So far the tribunal has heard evidence from 172 witnesses, 35 of whom are resident outside the jurisdiction. There is a video link between the tribunal offices in Dublin and a “secure location” in Belfast.
The final report of the Smithwick Tribunal is expected around the end of May 2012.
The myth that the IRA was riddled with spies feeds the ire of those who oppose the Good Friday agreement with violence
Comment is free – Guardian
13 Feb 2012
**Paul Larkin is the author of A Very British Jihad, which alleged systematic and sectarian collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries. He works as an author and translator and lives between Dublin and the Donegal Gaeltacht.
An RUC policeman stands next to an armoured Land Rover in Northern Ireland, 1998. (Photograph: Alastair Grant/AP)
The refusal of the star witness, journalist Toby Harnden, to undergo cross examination at the Smithwick tribunal in Dublin has thrown the whole inquiry into disarray and leads to questions about holding one in the first place.
The tribunal was set up by the Irish government to investigate claims that in 1989 a member of the Garda Síochána (Irish police) helped the IRA to murder two high-ranking RUC officers: Harry Breen and Ken Buchanan. This is despite the fact Canadian judge Peter Cory had already investigated these killings in 2003 and ruled that the IRA did not need the help of a traditionally hostile southern Irish police force to kill the two officers.
In a now familiar pattern, the Garda/IRA story was first circulated by former low-ranking agents of the British army’s force research unit (FRU). Most Irish people saw the decision to extend the Cory investigation as a sop to unionists – a perverse quid pro quo for all that Irish republican fuss about Pat Finucane and the hundreds of other victims of Britain’s dirty war. Speaking to an expectant Irish public, bizarrely, via his Facebook page rather than bothering to turn up at a tribunal his work helped instigate, Harnden tells us he still stands by his allegations.
Perhaps the Irish government should have listened more closely to Judge Cory, who cast doubt on Harnden’s evidence in relation to the murders, saying he took unattributable testimony from security force or intelligence sources and repeated these as fact: “Statements and allegations were put forward as matters of fact, when in reality they were founded upon speculation and hypothesis.”
Here lies the heart of what, I believe, has not just duped Toby Harnden but a whole raft of otherwise sagacious scribes: much of the narrative of our most recent Troubles is being dictated by those same FRU spooks whose testimony is not only driven by an anti-Good Friday agreement animus but is also often incorrect.
In the case of the two murders, for instance, FRU operatives say the formidable IRA units from north County Louth and South Armagh, which carried out the killings, were “riddled with spies” and that their favourite spy for Britain in the IRA, Freddie Scappaticci, knew all about these killings. This is pure fantasy; deadly IRA cells would have no need or desire to consult with anyone before launching this kind of attack – least of all a Belfast man like “Scap”. Territory is important in Ireland.
But don’t take my word for it. A high-ranking RUC Special Branch officer (witness 62) told the Smithwick tribunal: “No agent of the state or anyone who was recruited at that time was in any way involved in the shooting.” But guess what? The “riddled with spies” mantra got all the headlines and witness 62 was mostly ignored – even by the Guardian.
Many books have been written by experienced journalists that regurgitate the farrago of lies, half truths and speculations by maliciously motivated FRU operatives. All intone that Freddie Scappaticci more or less ran the IRA – ergo MI5 controlled the IRA.
In fact he was a member of a debrief unit that questioned IRA volunteers after certain operations and in certain areas. He was never briefed about upcoming operations. He was never in a so-called “nutting squad” and never in a position to walk into a particular area and demand prior details of an operation or the head of an IRA volunteer on a plate. Yet this FRU-inspired myth has become the accepted narrative.
But it’s not just a question of journalistic standards. The repeated (and incorrect) assertion that MI5 was running the IRA and pushing the peace process feeds the ire of armed groups in Ireland who oppose the Good Friday agreement. A headline that says “IRA riddled with spies” is, in that sense, an incendiary device and undermines our democratic all-Ireland decision to try another, unarmed, way to find justice and peace and ultimately end partition.
The reality is that we will probably never get further than what Judge Cory discovered about the Breen and Buchanan killings, but the Smithwick tribunal may have served a purpose if it finally exposes the undue influence that a devious and anti-Irish-unity group of spooks has had on the Troubles narrative.
A BRITISH Government minister stood up in the House of Commons at Westminster in October and admitted that the British State colluded with Loyalist gunmen in the murder of a Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.
No doubt a chilling moment of truth delivered by Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson from the Dispatch Box in the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ which was overshadowed at the time by the Finucane family’s angry departure from their Downing Street meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron.
In the House of Commons, Mr Paterson made it clear he was speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister and looking on from the sidelines, former Policing Board vice-chairman Denis Bradley recalls what he describes as a muted response to a startling admission.
“The British Prime Minister, in public, admitted to a criminal action on behalf of his predecessors and everyone rubs their beard,” he told the Detail.
“The question is, is collusion ever going to be investigated because it doesn’t look to me at the moment as if it ever is.”
The British government admission and apology on that October day when they told Geraldine Finucane and her family that there was to be no inquiry into her husband’s killing was misguided if they hoped it would silence the clamour for more precise information about who in government had knowledge of collusion.
It is not enough to simply put up their hands to admit criminality and hope campaigners representing families who lost loved ones to murder involving British agents on both sides of the conflict – be it Freddie Scappaticci on the Republican side or Mark Haddock on the Loyalist side.
Both were paid agents of the State – protected species and who were both involved in all kinds of criminality, including murder. And, of course, there were hundreds of them passing on information to the security services.
Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice campaigns for the truth about the ‘secret war’ and he says the truth applies to both sides of the divide.
“Equally we need the truth about Freddie Scappaticci as we do about Brian Nelson,” he told The Detail, “we will have no double standards on that. Yes both families affected or alleged to be effected by his role equally need this matter dealt with.”
He points out that the issue of suspected collusion arises almost on a daily basis. “It is out there if you pick up the papers in the media if you follow the stories,” he said. “It is every day – it is Claudy, it is Kingsmills, Loughinisland, Ballymurphy, New Lodge 6 – it is Pat Finucane, it is Rosemary Nelson, it is Billy Wright. You know we could go on and on and on…it’s there.”
Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory and former leading British policeman Lord Stevens have already implicated the State and its agents in collusion with paramilitaries in murder.
Now Relatives for Justice is campaigning for access to the chain of British command that knew about intelligence agents whether handled by Special Branch or MI5.
Mark Thompson wants to know which State officials charged with protecting the integrity of the State actually turned a blind eye to murder.
To him it is a question of who is culpable. Agents were a dime a dozen, he said, before asking who funded and resourced the intelligence gathering.
He went on: “This was structured and the nature of that structure had to be approved, had to be planned and had to be resourced. And when we start going after agent handlers what we do is very quickly go up that food chain to the people who were part of that process.
“And ultimately now the objective is to protect those agent handlers to prevent that from happening. Sacrifice the loyalists in the dock and keep the immunity and the impunity a live issue for the people who were employed by the State and paid by the State to provide a service protecting the community when in fact they were doing quite the opposite.”
The government’s difficulties in dealing with collusion date back to the beginning of the conflict. But they were certainly compounded in 2007 when the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Nuala O’Loan, presented the world with her damning report into the Mount Vernon UVF gang led by police agent Mark Haddock. Agent Roxy as he was known to his police handlers had been, she reported, involved in at least 10 murders and possibly another five as well.
Bawnmore resident John Flynn met Agent Roxy close up and personal one night in 1992 when the police agent pointed a gun at his head and pulled the trigger. The gun didn’t fire and John Flynn wrestled with Mark Haddock for control of the weapon. He won. Agent Roxy left the scene minus his UVF gun.
Mark Haddock appeared to enjoy special branch protection
Mark Haddock appeared to enjoy special branch protection
And it didn’t end there for John Flynn. Five years later UVF commander Gary Haggarty used his own car in a botched attempt to blow John Flynn to smithereens. The bomb was placed but the bombers were noticed and chased from the estate to the waiting Haggerty.
John Flynn may be unique in that he survived two murder bids by two agents of the State. But whilst he only had suspicions before Nuala O’Loan’s Operation Ballast report was published, she left no one in any doubt that Mount Vernon UVF literally got away with murder.
Mr Flynn told The Detail about the day he listened to Mrs O’Loan’s revealing her report: “I was really devastated when I heard it because nobody actually told me who was responsible for the incident in ‘92 and the incident in ’97. The RUC never came to tell me how any investigating was going. Nothing, they told me absolutely nothing. And then all of a sudden out of the blue she produces this report.”
But like many others visited by the dark shadow of the Mount Vernon UVF during a campaign of murder that left 20 grieving families, John Flynn has been left devastated by the State’s failure to honour the promise it made in the aftermath of the O’Loan report.
His solicitor is Kevin Winters. Mr Winters told The Detail: “The position as I understand it is that Nuala O’Loan’s, in my view, groundbreaking investigation uncovered allegations of collusion involving paramilitaries and the security forces. Pursuant to that there was a requirement on the part of the investigative authorities to commence a meaningful investigation into those allegations of collusion.”
At the time, the then Chief Constable Hugh Orde accepted the findings of the O’Loan report’s recommendation 34.1 which reads:
“This investigation has shown that within the UVF in North Belfast and Newtownabbey there was a network of informants, some of whom held senior positions. There should be a thorough investigation of all crimes whith which those informants have been associated, in the course of which PSNI should re-interview the Secial Branch handlers and controllers who are responsible for them. These officers may have further information about the informants’ criminal offences, which has not been officially documented. Any indication of criminal behaviour by a serving or retired officer which emerges in the course of the PSNI investigations which are initiated, following this Report by the Police Ombudsman, should be referred to the Police Ombudsman for investigation.”
The O’Loan report began after a complaint to her by Raymond McCord that his son was murdered on the orders of UVF leader and police agent Mark Haddock.
Hugh Orde’s response was unequivocal :
“This recommendation is accepted and its implementation is already underway. The Historical Enquiries Team became operational in January 2006. The McCord case was one of the first cases to be given to HET to re-examine, at the direction of the Chief Constable. (This was under one of the exemption criteria from the normal chronological process, as a matter of serious public interest). When HET examines a case, it also looks at others linked to it. The McCord case is one of those examined in this report, and is linked to a number of other incidents. HET will be undertaking a thorough re-examination of these cases contemporaneously because of linking factors. The HET has a good relationship with the Officer of the Police Ombudsman, including regular meetings between senior colleagues. A protocol exists for the referral or relevant matters to the Office of the Police Ombudsman from HET if investigations uncover evidence that points to the involvement of police officers in serious crime.”
So far, so good, according to campaigning solicitor Kevin Winters. But then: “There was something of a convoluted history of this situation in that it was left to the Chief Constable who in turn referred it , quite understandably in my view, to the HET. They dealt with the matter and had commenced a significant investigation and then at a later stage it was transferred from them to a particular section of the PSNI.”
And the fact that the PSNI is currently in charge of the case and has been for some time has upset the families according to John Flynn.
He thinks the decision to remove the HET was a retrograde step: “I think the HET was about to expose things and what they were…maybe gonna interview ex-RUC in relation to this here. Maybe arrest them…I don’t know. But they were about to do something. And then they [PSNI] stepped in and just took it off them.”
As far as Kevin Winters is concerned there’s good reason to be concerned. His view is that the transfer from HET to PSNI caused a “high degree of anxiety and concern on the part of the families who had already been through a significant and trying ordeal over a number of years in terms of trying to get information, the background to the killing of their loved ones.”
He added: “And the central tenet running through the Operation Ballast report rested on allegations of collusion involving members of the security forces so there was a certain perception on one view that it didn’t add up or it didn’t square at all with many families to find that there was a certain assessment that that essentially was the police investigating the police.”
Mark Thompson says he was deeply disturbed by the responses he got at a meeting with a senior officer from the PSNI’s C2 Serious Crime Unit. Operation Ballast became Operation Stafford when the PSNI took it over.
Mr Thompson says he accompanied a number of families to a meeting with Garry Eaton, the then PSNI’s Senior Investigating Officer [SIO] involved in the Operation Stafford investigation.
He told the Detail: “During the course of a 20-minute private meeting with the family who lost two relatives to this gang he told myself and the family he was not interesting in examining the role of police officers whatsoever.
“The conversation came around to us putting to him that if he came across a police officer that was committing a criminal act, engaged in wrong-doing or had information that could have prevented the loss of life and didn’t act or protected a person who was an agent involved in murder, what would he do with that?
“And he stopped us and said ‘I want to make it crystal clear I am not looking at police officers, I am only interested in terrorism and criminality.’”
The PSNI told The Detail that no one was above the law but pointed out that the police did not investigate police – that was the job of the Police Ombudsman.
Referring to the meeting as described by Mr Thompson a PSNI statement said: “It would be wrong to interpret any comments made by police at the meeting referred to as suggesting a lack of concern about police conduct or criminality. The PSNI investigation into a series of murders and other serious crimes by the UVF in north Belfast has been extensive, following on from work initiated by the Ombudsman and then progressed by the Historical Enquiries Team.
“A criminal trial is currently in progress at Belfast Crown Court. It is important to remember that other linked investigations are continuing. In the interests of clarity and fairness, police can give a categorical assurance that any individual suspected of criminality will be investigated, regardless of their occupation, either by PSNI, or if appropriate, by OPONI.”
That statement is unlikely to assure Mr Thompson and the families he represents. They say the Ombudsman’s office is no longer fit for purpose and that it is incapable of investigating collusion. They also believe that having disabled the Police Ombudsman’s office following the devastating O’Loan report, such comments from the PSNI are just part of the process of having no State institution prepared to take ownership of the requirement to investigate State collusion in murder as recommended in 2007 by an official State-approved body, the Police Ombudsman’s office for Northern Ireland.
Mark Thompson has no doubt he has heard that before but continues to demand to know who in the security services knew about terrorism and criminality involving informants and agents of the State but turned a blind eye and how far up the chain of command did the knowledge go?
Mr Thompson referred to the recent experience of the Finucane family in Downing Street. He said: “Very powerful forces are at play in Mi5 and PSNI, C2 intelligence and we need to look at their whole issue of legacy and their alleged involvement in many multiple incidents that happened in which people were killed.
“They are hiding the policy objective that was collusion because it went so high. So in terms of the British Government, they need to protect the people who directed the agent handlers, the managers of the agent handlers because very quickly it goes up the food chair into government and cabinet office.”
Relatives for Justice supports the call made by Lord Eames and Denis Bradley for an independent investigative legacy unit that has an international oversight person to look at it.
Today Denis Bradley warns of difficult days ahead if the issue is not dealt with by the British and Irish governments. He says the governments are detached from the issue because they want local politicians to learn how to govern without interference. But he feels local politicians lack the maturity to manage the legacy of the past.
So, in his opinion, there’s a danger of creating a festering sore that’s unlikely to derail the process of peace but that will cause community division and disruption.
As far as the issue of Cabinet knowledge of what was being done in the name of the State to protect the integrity of the State, Denis Bradley is undecided.
“I have been briefed on a lot of this stuff,” the former vice-chairman of the Policing Board told The Detail, “and I couldn’t make a final judgment on that but I would make the final judgment that horrendous things happened; that the state allowed to happen.
“Whether every Prime Minister or every cabinet minister knew about it is a grey area, but certainly things happened that were quite horrendous… and that the Prime Minister of Great Britain has now said happened… em so the past is not going away very fast, it is dripping into the present, we’re managing to hold it together and keep it going but I think it keeps souring relationships at many levels, and it leaves a lot of people very disturbed and very determined to keep after this until they get to that place were they think their justice or their truth lies.”
He said that that understandable pursuit of the truth must accept the historical differences between the paramilitaries and the State. Paramilitaries do not keep records he said and so the truth is that the real records for the State and for the paramilitaries exists with the State.
He went on: “If you want to find out about Scapatecci you are not going to find out about Scapatecci through the IRA because they didn’t know. The people who know about Scapatecci exist on the State side. Whatever Special Branch knew, whatever MI5 knew. Whoever ran him knows, whatever records are held on that.
“So when people say, what about bringing in the records on the paramilitaries, you can’t bring the paramilitaries in the way you can bring the State in. And the State holds the treasure of those memories on all sides and that’s where the State becomes important not to beat up the State but because they are the holders of those memories.”
However, with the lack of appetite to investigate the past within the institutions of the State, the only way those with a thirst for knowledge of how the State was involved in the terrorism and the criminality of the conflict are left with just one course of action – the courts of the land.
John Flynn has just lodged papers seeking a judicial review. This follows the revelation to Relatives for Justice by the PSNI that is no current investigation into collusion as recommended by Nuala O’Loan in 2007.
There’s mention in the court papers that the Chief Constable Matt Baggot told Mark Thompson in response to a Freedom of Information request that there are no specific terms of reference for the PSNI’s investigation of Operation Stafford.
John Flynn’s legal position is that he holds the PSNI responsible for the failure to investigate properly the allegations of collusion as recommended by Nuala O’Loan and as promised by the previous Chief Constable Hugh Orde.
As it is stated in his affidavit to the court, Mr Flynn says: “I do not accept that the Chief Constable of the PSNI can simple indicate that when it comes to implementing 34.1 of Ballast he has no remit or control. It is completely wrong and unsatisfactory for him to defer the matter to the Police Ombudsman knowing full well that the Ombudsman has not commenced a meaningful investigation into collusion to date nor is there any likelihood that he will do so in the foreseeable future.
“In the meantime further delay has arisen and time is passing which in turn creates huge prejudice with regard to the investigation leads against those members of the security forces who were actively involved in collusion with those who tried to kill me.”
Kevin Winters says this request for the court to make an intervention and make the necessary orders to compel the PSNI to implement recommendation 34.1 of the O’Loan report is a weapon of last resort.
“At at the core of the case is the failure to address Section 34.1 of Operation Ballast which is the investigation of alleged collusion in terms of criminality between members of the security forces and paramilitaries,” he says.
“The fact that we are left in my view with the last alternative of accessing the courts to try to get justice for Mr Flynn and indeed others is in my view already a sense of defeat because the institutions set up to deal with this type of sensitive issue have in fact failed. We have no alternative, reluctantly albeit, to ask the courts to intervene and give this issue some serious direction.”
And the legal route is what the Finucane family now find themselves taking as well in spite of being promised an inquiry by previous British governments.
That’s a lamentable position for families to find themselves in according to Denis Bradley.
The British and Irish governments have people with the maturity to deal with this but, he says, “the two governments have other things on their plates, and have other interests so they’re not going to do it, so we’re caught in the worst of worlds, where there is no forum for this, there is no political dynamic for this.
“And I do think that the people who want the answers will just continue to fight it through the courts. And I think that’s unfortunate, it’s bad for the courts, it’s bad for the police in my opinion, it’s bad for the Ombudsman’s office, it’s bad for the victims themselves, and it’s… it’s not the right way.”
Mark Thompson shares the view that the legal route is punitive and inflicts further pain on families already suffering. He says a centralized process is necessary to manage the legacy of the past.
He said: “We had that notion of that through the legacy commission proposed by Lord Eames and Denis Bradley and we need to get back to that otherwise we will be dealing with this for years. The effect of it on society will be somewhat negative. It will pollute civil society, communities and the body politic as how we try to move forward particularly if the issue of victimhood is politicised in the Assembly and that’s why we need to step back.”
But Denis Bradley has identified another dynamic in the lack of enthusiasm for disclosure of the State’s intelligence led involvement in the conflict. He says retired police officers exercise a strong influence because of past historical mistrust of MI5.
“I mean there are tensions here between people who are retired officers of the RUC and the British State because one of the fears is that former RUC and particularly Special Branch people had and have is that the British State is quite happy to dump the blame on them,” he said.
Mr Bradley said the local police have described to him the existence of what they termed, “the other room.” That’s a reference to the often unseen influence and work of British security services and their political masters.
He believes the former RUC officers, and particularly Special Branch officers, fear history will judge them alone as being the instruments of collusion.
“And therefore these people feel they were being used and abused to some degree,” said Mr Bradley. They are convinced there is a very real danger that the sins of the past will be thrust upon them alone. In other words, history will judge them as the real baddies.
They feel, according to Denis Bradley: “That while the IRA were terrible over there, the UVF over there…the real baddies were the RUC and Special Branch. They are saying excuse us – we were not always fully in control; we were not fully in charge; we didn’t make the policy decisions…there was this other room. And quite often if we, in Special Branch, were holding material from our colleagues in the police, MI5 were equally holding information from us and the Mi5, the military intelligence were quite often running agents we knew little about.”
The former Policing Board vice chairman told The Detail this created two versions of history: “I think that’s a very interesting history if anybody ever got to it – was there another room? MI5 claim there was no other room. The politicians claim there was no other room.
“I’m inclined to be on the side of the RUC retired officers on that one. I think there was other rooms at times when things got rough.”
By Liam Clarke
21 December 2011
Half of all senior IRA members in the Troubles were working for intelligence services, a secret dossier of evidence into the murder of two RUC men has claimed.
The remarkable document has laid bare a startling series of claims about the infiltration of both the police and terror groups during the ‘Dirty War’.
Whistleblower Ian Hurst
It claims the IRA ran agents in the RUC and also that Dundalk Garda station was regarded by British intelligence as “a nest of vipers”, with at least two officers actively assisting the Provos.
The information is contained in a secret 24-page document in the name of Ian Hurst — a British intelligence whistleblower — which has been seen by the Belfast Telegraph.
The sensational claims are due to be made to Justice Peter Smithwick’s Dublin tribunal of inquiry into the murder of two senior RUC officers in 1989.
The victims, Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Robert Buchanan, died in a hail of IRA gunfire as they crossed the border following an intelligence exchange with the Garda in Dundalk.
The dossier also claims:
• The shadowy Force Research Unit (FRU) had a file on suspected rogue gardai prepared to pass information to the IRA and act as its agents. MI5 also had a network of agents with the Garda.
• The IRA had a network of informants in public agencies such as social security offices and vehicle licensing departments.
• One in four IRA members was an agent, rising to one in two among senior members.
• Martin McGuinness was involved in all strategic military decisions taken by the IRA.
At the centre of the web of intrigue sat the IRA’s head of internal security, the agent known as Stakeknife, who took information from rogue gardai while himself working for British intelligence.
Perhaps the most shocking claim is that a rogue Garda Sergeant leaked intelligence to Stakeknife. Stakeknife has been identified as Freddie Scappaticci, a veteran Belfast republican.
Scappaticci has strongly denied working for British intelligence and said he had cut his links with the IRA in 1990. He is legally represented at the Smitwick Tribunal and is now considering giving evidence in person.
Last night Mr Hurst refused to comment on the document.
He said: “I believe that this was made public to mess me about. I cannot comment on it because of an injunction preventing me from giving details of my career in special forces.”
Mr Hurst worked in military intelligence between 1981 and 1990, spending most of that time in the FRU, responsible for handling agents and informants in Irish paramilitary groups. The injunction has been varied to allow him to give evidence to Smithwick in Dublin.
However tribunal lawyers are insisting that he give his testimony in closed session, something he suspects is part of a deal with the British authorities to limit potentially embarrassing disclosures.
One of the alleged rogue officers in Dundalk has already been indentified. Owen Corrigan, a detective sergeant, was named by Jeffrey Donaldson under Parliamentary privilege. Mr Corrigan, now retired, has always denied the allegation and appeared at the tribunal to reject them. He is one of three gardai, two based in Dundalk and one in Donegal, named in the document.
In the document Mr Hurst says “the fact that a Garda was passing information to the IRA did not bother me anymore or any less than in the same way members of the RUC/UDR/BA (British Army) occasionally passed information to the IRA and regularly to members of various loyalist paramilitaries.”
Mr Hurst assisted John Stevens’ inquiry into security force collusion with terrorists in Northern Ireland.
The document states Lord Stevens told him that of 210 terrorist suspects he arrested, only three were not security force agents, and some worked for several agencies.
The Smithwick Tribunal is examining claims that members of the Irish police or other employees of the Irish State colluded in the murders of the two most senior RUC officers to die in the Troubles. Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Supt Robert Buchanan were shot dead while returning from a meeting at Dundalk Garda station in the Republic. The tribunal has so far heard evidence from a number of witnesses, some of whom have alleged that members of the Garda passed information to the IRA.
A MAN FROM THE DARK CORNER OF MILITARY INTELLIGENCE
Doubts about Ian Hurst’s reliability were dispelled after I published stories based on his information back in 1999.
The first, an unlikely sounding tale claiming military intelligence had doctored bullets used to shoot Gerry Adams, was immediately confirmed by the Defence Advisory Committee. After that he was arrested, and I was questioned under caution.
For a time I gave him the pseudonym Martin Ingram to obscure his identity, but now that alias has been dropped.
He was the first member of the Force Research Unit (FRU) — the dark corner of military intelligence which ran agents in terrorist groups — to speak publicly.
He had two tours of duty in Northern Ireland. Between 1982 and 1990 he was in Londonderry handling agents like Frank Hegarty, an IRA quartermaster later murdered for betraying a cache of Libyan weapons, and Willie Carlin, who got out just ahead of the execution squad.
A second tour was in Enniskillen between 1990 and 1991. There he met his wife, from a Donegal republican family. That affected his vetting and he bought himself out of the Army in 2003.
Penetration of the Provisionals
Mr Hurst was responsible for handling agents in the IRA and for a time had enhanced access to other agents’ reports, though not their names, on military intelligence computers. He has painted a picture of an organisation penetrated at almost every level and with its head of security, Stakeknife, working for the other side. The document says: “As a rough guide you should expect one in four PIRA volunteers to be agents of one agency or another.” Lord Stevens (above), the former Met chief, is quoted as
saying that only three out of 210 terrorist suspects he arrested in a collusion probe in Northern Ireland were not working for either the RUC, MI5 or the Army. The document claims that Hurst secretly taped a conversation with RAF Air Vice Marshal Andrew Vallance, who was quoted as telling him that the most sensitive matter was the identity of Stakeknife and his role as a British agent.
IRA agents within the Garda
The document claims that the FRU had a file on suspected rogue gardai prepared to pass information to the IRA and act as its agents. It names three people who were allegedly on the list, two in Dundalk and one in Donegal. It quotes Basil Walsh, a senior Garda officer who Mr Hurst met in 1999, as saying he was aware of one named Garda who worked for the IRA. Mr Walsh allegedly told him “that every time something was done to try and eradicate the mess something happened to intervene”. The document also claims MI5 had a network of agents with the Garda. MP Jeffrey Donaldson has named retired detective sergeant Owen Corrigan under Parliamentary privilege in the House of Commons in April 2000, as being a “rogue garda”. Mr Corrigan denies all allegations of collusion. Last week former agent Kevin Fulton claimed Corrigan was passing information to the IRA and was regarded as a “friend” of the group
Role of McGuinness in the IRA
MR Hurst once backed claims that Martin McGuinness reported to MI6, the British foreign intelligence agency. This was based on a document passed to him, and accepted by him in good faith, after he left the Army but which appears to have been a forgery. The document does not repeat that claim but it does put Mr McGuinness in a central role in the IRA. It states the IRA’s “security unit came under the operational command of Northern Command” and adds “the person in charge of that unit throughout the entire Troubles was PIRA member Mr James Martin McGuinness”. It accuses McGuinness of being “directly involved in matters of life and death for persons rightly or indeed wrongly suspected of informing on PIRA members. Mr McGuinness was also a key player in the long-term strategic strategies used by PIRA”. McGuinness has always denied such a leading role and stated that he left the IRA in the early 1970s.
Republican intelligence gathering
It is claimed that the IRA had a network of informants in public agencies such as social security offices and vehicle licensing, North and South. This echoes claims by Martin McGartland , a former RUC agent in the IRA. One section of the document reads: “PIRA was extensively penetrated at all levels, most sources of the information to PIRA were readily identified (by military intelligence) but seldom compromised.” To back up its claims that the intelligence services turned a blind eye to IRA intelligence sources, it claims that in the early 1990s a FRU agent was targeted by the IRA with the help of a social security employee who is still working in the same office. It claims that the IRA could informally “obtain information from driver licensing, social security, councils, utilities far quicker than the FRU”, especially in cross-border areas where red tape was involved in working through the RUC and Garda.
Stakeknife, the Army’s key agent
Stakeknife was a key military intelligence agent within the IRA, a man with a hotline of his own which gave him direct contact with dedicated handlers in an office known as the ‘rat hole’. When he called, he identified himself with a code number, but Mr Hurst learned his true identify by chance while manning the phone. Stakeknife had been caught drink-driving and gave uniformed police the hotline number in an effort to extricate himself. Hurst vouched for him, and it has been claimed that Stakeknife was Freddie Scappaticci, though Mr Scappaticci strongly denies this. The document expands on Stakeknife’s role as head of the IRA internal security. It claims he controlled IRA agents in the Garda. The most corrosive suggestion which Justice Peter Smithwick will have to consider is that officers Breen and Buchanan were allowed to die rather than risk compromising the Army’s most important agent in Ireland.
The web of collusion and spies
MR Hurst has frequently claimed some members of the RUC, UDR and Army colluded with terror groups. The statement portrays a wilderness of mirrors in which every organisation has the other penetrated to some degree and “all sources have a shelf life”. It talks of British agents in the Garda, Garda agents in Northern Ireland, IRA agents in the RUC and Garda and RUC agents in the IRA. It states “the fact that a Garda was passing information to the IRA did not bother me any more or any less than in the same way members of the RUC/UDR/BA (British Army) passed information to the IRA and members of various loyalist paramilitaries. It was a matter for HQNI and the RUC and way above my pay grade … in other words it was a strategic and not a tactical problem”. It concludes that none of this “registered massively on the Richter scale, it was just a fact of life, indeed it was well within the rules of our game!”
A witness at the Smithwick Tribunal has claimed a former IRA bomb-maker was a secret agent or was being protected by some state agencies “north and south”.
Kevin Fulton, a former British agent inside the IRA, is giving evidence for a third day to the Dublin tribunal.
It is investigating allegations of Garda collusion in the 1989 murders of two senior RUC officers.
Mr Fulton spoke of how he came to the conclusion that Patrick ‘Mooch’ Blair was effectively another agent.
“After the Omagh bomb I did target him specifically but it was all thwarted by police,” he said.
Mr Fulton claimed he had passed on information about Blair to his handlers and what he described as “golden opportunities” to arrest him were not followed up.
“He was being protected by some state agency north and south,” he said. “He walked on water, so more or less, he was an agent.”
Blair was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Northern Ireland 1975 for the attempted murder of an RUC officer and possession of firearms.
He has previously acknowledged to the tribunal that he was active in the IRA over three decades but denied he was a commander, saying he was no more then a “volunteer”.
The tribunal is investigating the murders of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan.
They were shot dead in south Armagh shortly after leaving a meeting at Dundalk Garda station.
Mr Fulton was also cross-examined by Martin O’ Rourke, legal counsel for Freddie Scappaticci.
Mr Scappaticci denies being the agent in the IRA known as ‘Stakeknife’.
“Do you deliberately overstate your own importance,” Mr O’Rourke asked.
“No, I am not as important or unimportant as anyone else” Mr Fulton replied. “Maybe your client is understating his importance.”
During heated exhanges Mr Fulton told Mr Scappaticci’s legal counsel that it was an “actual fact” that your client “is an informer and he is ‘Stakeknife'”.
Mr Fulton also spoke of his wish to “recede into the background”.
“I would like to disappear, I am sure there are some people who could arrange that,” he said.
Report on 1975 murders finds Robin Jackson was advised to lie low after his fingerprints were found on murder weapon
15 Dec 2011
A loyalist assassin known as The Jackal received a tipoff from a senior police officer that helped him elude justice over the killing of an Irish pop band in the mid-1970s, according to a report.
The cold case police investigations unit, the Historical Enquiries Team (Het), found Robin Jackson was linked to the murders of three members of the Miami Showband in July 1975.
Miami Showband killings: Robin Jackson claimed he was tipped off that his fingerprints had been found on a silencer used in the murders. (Photograph: Kevin Boyes/Presseye)
The pop group were on their way back to Dublin when their minibus was stopped by a fake army patrol near the border. The Het report found that Jackson, a member of loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Volunteer Force from North Armagh, had been linked to one of the murder weapons by his fingerprints. But Jackson later claimed in police interviews he had been tipped off by a senior Royal Ulster Constabulary officer to lie low after the killings.
Jackson, who emigrated for a period of the 1980s to South Africa, has since died from cancer. In 1984 he helped organise the attempted murder of the then Sunday World northern editor Jim Campbell, who had named Jackson as the leader of the UVF in Mid-Ulster, which was responsible for shootings and bombings against nationalists in the so-called “Murder Triangle” of North Armagh.
The report, which was released on Wednesday, said Jackson claimed he was tipped off that his fingerprints had been found on a silencer attached to a Luger pistol used in the Miami Showband murders. The Het team said the murders raised “disturbing questions about collusive and corrupt behaviour”. It said the review “has found no means to assuage or rebut these concerns and that is a deeply troubling matter”.
The bogus army patrol comprised soldiers from the Ulster Defence Regiment and UVF members in Armagh. Members of the band were made to line up at the side of the road while one UVF member tried to hide a bomb on the bus. The plan was that the bomb would explode en route, killing everyone on board as it entered Dublin. But the bomb went off prematurely, killing Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville, who were members of the UDR, as well as the UVF.
After the explosion the other members of the UVF gang then opened fire on the band, killing lead singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty, and trumpeter Brian McCoy. The bass player, Stephen Travers, barely survived his injuries.
Three members of the UDR were eventually convicted for their part in the attack. James Somerville, Thomas Crozier and James McDowell received life sentences and remained in jail until their early release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 when republican and loyalist prisoners were given a de facto amnesty as part of the peace settlement.
Commenting on the report, band member Des McAlea, who survived the attack, said: “It’s been a long time but we’ve got justice at last.” He described the Het findings as “quite shocking” and “mind-blowing”. “The fact that there was collusion in this is such a tragedy for all of us concerned,” McAlea added. “To think that people were supposed to be protecting us and they were actually involved in this terrible tragedy.”
Spectre of collusion in Miami Showband killings
By Cormac O’Keeffe
Thursday, December 15, 2011
THE spectre of police collusion and corruption in the murders of three young men in The Miami Showband massacre over 36 years ago has been raised by an internal report of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
The gun attack on July 31, 1975, occurred as a minibus carrying the band was stopped at a bogus checkpoint outside Newry, Co Armagh.
The group was returning from a gig in Banbridge, Co Down, to Dublin.
Three men were killed: Tony Geraghty, 24, from Crumlin, south Dublin; Brian McEvoy, 32, a married father of two originally from Tyrone but living in Raheny, north Dublin; and Fran O’Toole, 28, a married father of two from Bray, Co Wicklow.
Fellow band member Stephen Travers was seriously injured in the attack, while a fifth member, Des McAlea, was also injured.
Details of a report into the massacre, carried out by the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team, were released by the families of victims and survivors at a press conference in Dublin organised by Justice for the Forgotten and the Pat Finucane Centre.
The internal special investigative unit said the murder was a pre-planned attack carried out by the UVF loyalist terror gang, including members of the Ulster Defence Regiment, part of the British army.
The gang had intended to plant a bomb to detonate at a later stage, allowing some elements to claim the band was carrying bombs for the Provisional IRA. However, the bomb detonated prematurely killing two terrorists, Harris Boyle and Wesley Sommerville.
The band members had already been told to get out of the bus and, when the bomb exploded, six other gunmen opened fire.
Three men were later convicted of murder.
The team raised particular concern about the possible involvement of a notorious loyalist terrorist Robert Jackson, known as The Jackal, after a gun linked to the atrocity was found to have his fingerprints on it.
There was no evidence that this information was passed on to the Miami investigation team. Jackson also claimed he was tipped off about the fingerprint evidence by senior RUC officers prior to being arrested.
No evidence of an internal investigation in these allegations was found.
Travers, the band’s bass player, who survived by pretending to be dead, said the finding was alarming.
“We believe the only conclusion possible arising from the HET report is that one of the most prolific loyalist murderers of the conflict was an RUC Special Branch agent and was involved in the Miami Showband attack.”
The HET found Jackson’s “stark” claims that he was told to lie low were passed on to RUC headquarters and the force’s complaints and discipline department but there were no records of any further investigation.
“To the objective, impartial observer, disturbing questions about collusive and corrupt behaviour are raised,” it concluded.
“The HET review has found no means to assuage or rebut these concerns and this is a deeply troubling matter.”
The report has been sent to the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland.
Mr Travers, Mr McAlea and families of the deceased all said they were “reasonably happy” with the report, although Mr McAlea said he wanted the PSNI chief constable and the DPP to tell him why nobody was charged with his attempted murder.
Tour turns to terror
THE Miami Showband were one of the Ireland’s most popular live bands throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
The group, originally known as Downbeats Quartet, were formed in 1962 under Tom Doherty.
With seven number one songs, including There’s Always Me and Simon Says, the band enjoyed a large following as they relentlessly toured Ireland.
On July 31, 1975, the showband was returning from performing at a dance in Banbridge, Co Down, when their minibus was flagged down by men dressed in British army uniforms on the road to the border town of Newry.
Band members were told to line up in a ditch while UVF members posing as Ulster Defence Regiment members tried to plant a bomb on the minibus, which they hoped would explode later on as the musicians headed home to Dublin.
As the gang loaded the bomb, the musicians were asked for their names and addresses, but it exploded prematurely, killing UVF members Harris Boyle and Wesley Sommerville.
After the explosion, the UVF gang was ordered to open fire on the band, killing Fran O’Toole, Tony Geraghty and Brian McCoy. Stephen Travers was seriously injured yet survived by pretending he was dead, while the explosion blew Des McAlea clear of the immediate danger, and he escaped with scratches and severe shock.
Later that year Mr McAlea and Mr Travers reformed the band, but both men soon left, leaving the New Miami to tour, eventually disbanding in 1986.
The Miami name returned once again in 1996, this time fronted by Gerry Brown, brother of singer Dana.
The band performed on the 30th anniversary of the atrocity, with Mr McAlea and Mr Travers reuniting on stage at a Miami Showband Memorial Concert at Vicar Street in 2005.
14 December 2011
Former Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) leader Robin Jackson was allowed by state forces to kill with impunity, Sinn Fein have said.
John O’Dowd, the party’s Upper Bann MLA, said the now dead loyalist was a known security forces agent and a blind eye was turned to his reign of terror.
“This speaks volumes about the British state’s involvement in the conflict and rather than claim, as they did, that they were impartial observers or some sort of peace keeper, they were in fact up to their necks in facilitating and possibly encouraging sectarian killings and much more,” he said.
Mr O’Dowd blamed the British Government’s reluctance to support an independent international truth commission on the potential fall-out from revelations about agents like Jackson.
Dolores Kelly, SDLP Upper Bann MLA, said the Historical Enquiries Team report on the Miami Showband killings underlined the need for a proper process to deal with the past.
She said: “There has been a long-held belief that there were people in the security forces, including the RUC, who were involved in brutal crimes. This report confirms that and is a vindication of the families’ campaign.”
Ms Kelly said it also confirmed very serious failures in the RUC’s investigation of serious crimes.
“The enormous question about why Robin Jackson was allowed to carry out this terror and inflict so much pain on victims over such a long period of time must be answered by the state as we cannot help but think if he had been put behind bars some people’s lives may have been spared,” she said.
14 December 2011
Cold case detectives unable to rule out state collusion in the Miami Showband massacre have admitted the allegations are deeply troubling.
Survivors and families of the victims of one of the most shocking atrocities of the Troubles said suggestions a police agent was involved has devastated them.
Three members of the Miami Showband were killed in July 1975 at a bogus checkpoint set up on the main Belfast to Dublin road
Three members of the hugely popular band were killed in the July 1975 Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) attack at a bogus checkpoint set up on the main Belfast to Dublin road, in Co Down.
The loyalist gang, including a number of serving Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldiers wearing British Army uniforms, gunned down the musicians after a bomb they tried to attach to their minibus exploded prematurely.
The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) – a unit which reports to Northern Ireland’s chief constable Matt Baggott on cases during the conflict – tried but could not refute suspicions of security force involvement.
New evidence in the case centres around the involvement of notorious loyalist leader Robin “The Jackal” Jackson – believed to have been a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch agent – as well as the role of soldiers in the British Army’s UDR.
Jackson’s fingerprints were found on a silencer attached to a Luger pistol used in the murders.
The cold case unit found evidence he was tipped off by an RUC detective superintendent and a detective sergeant and was warned “to clear as there was a wee job up the country that he would be done for.”
Stephen Travers, the band’s bass player, who survived by pretending to be dead, said the finding was alarming.
“We believe the only conclusion possible arising from the HET report is that one of the most prolific loyalist murderers of the conflict was an RUC Special Branch agent and was involved in the Miami Showband attack,” he said.
14 Dec 2011
Ulster Volunteer Force member Robin Jackson – who claims he was beaten into confessing to involvement in the Miami Showband Massacre in 1975 – was warned by police that his fingerprints had been found on a gun used in the killings, the Historical Enquiries Team has found.
The families of those killed have released conclusions from a review, after cold-case investigators said it was “deeply troubling” that British Army involvement in the attack could not be ruled out.
Three members of the Showband were killed on July 31, 1975, as they travelled back to Dublin after playing a gig in Banbridge, Co Down.
They were flagged down at a bogus army checkpoint at Buskhill, near Newry, in the early hours.
The review found: “To the objective, impartial observer, disturbing questions about collusive and corrupt behaviour are raised. The HET review has found no means to assuage or rebut these concerns.”
The gunmen, who were wearing UDR uniforms, instructed the band members to line up at a ditch and state their names and addresses.
Two of the attackers were killed when a bomb unexpectedly exploded as they placed it in the back of the band’s van.
The remaining gunmen then opened fire on the Miami Showband – shooting Tony Geraghty eight times in the back, while Brian McCoy was shot nine times and Fran O’Toole was shot as he lay on the ground face up.
Other band members pretended to be dead in order to escape being murdered.
Hours after the shootings, the UVF released a statement which said the loyalist paramilitary organisation was “justified” in taking action and “the killing of the three Showband members should be regarded as justifiable homicide”.
Jackson – also known as ‘The Jackal’ – was arrested and questioned about the massacre and he claims that, during a police interview, he was told to “clear as there was a wee job up the country I would be done for”.
One of the survivors, bass player Stephen Travers, said: “The most alarming finding concerns the involvement of Robin Jackson, aka ‘The Jackal’ – a notorious UVF member.
“The HET found disturbing evidence that Jackson was tipped off in May 1976 that his fingerprints had been found on a silencer attached to the Luger pistol used in the Miami murders.”
Jackson was arrested at an early stage in the inquiry, but was released without charge.
Three members of the UDR were convicted for the massacre.
Thomas Crozier, James McDowell and James Somerville all received life sentences, but were later released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Survivor Des McAlea said he was disappointed no one was ever charged with his attempted murder and he would pursue that with the Public Prosecution Service and the PSNI.
Both Mr Travers and Mr McAlea said one of the gang on the night was more authoritative than the others and spoke with a “posh English accent”.
Although the HET believes that man was McDowell, the survivors remain adamant the man was from England.
The families also said they want the issue of Robert Jackson’s involvement particularly to be pursued.
Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd said figures like Robin Jackson stand in the way of an independent truth commission.
“It was well known that Robin Jackson was an agent for the British state, that he was allowed to kill Catholics with impunity throughout Mid-Ulster and beyond and that some of these killings were actually facilitated by the forces of the state.”
“This speaks volumes about the British state’s involvement in the conflict and rather than claim, as they did, that they were impartial observers or some sort of peace keeper, they were in fact up to their necks in facilitating and possibly encouraging sectarian killings and much more.”
The HET report has been described as “vindication” for the families of the Miami Showband members by SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly.
“It again confirms what many people suspected; that there were very serious failures in the RUC in terms of investigating serious crimes in the past.”
“The enormous question about why Robin Jackson was allowed to carry out this terror and inflict so much pain on victims over such a long period of time must be answered by the State as we cannot help but think if he had been put behind bars some people’s lives may have been spared,” she added.
The report has been submitted to the Police Ombudsman, and Alliance Justice spokesperson Stewart Dickson said he believes it serves as a “wake up call” for the Secretary of State to put in place talks on how to address the past.
“The findings of this report are extremely troubling, though we have to acknowledge the reforms to policing that have been made since that time.”
“I also believe that it is absolutely crucial that we have a comprehensive process in place to address the legacy of the past. We need an overarching strategy to help meet the needs of victims and survivors and help build a shared future,” he added.
By Steven McCaffery
Wednesday December 07 2011
The British Government is to face a legal challenge over its failure to launch a public inquiry into security force collusion in the murder of Northern Ireland solicitor Pat Finucane, it has emerged.
Relatives of the Belfast solicitor are to seek a judicial review of David Cameron’s decision that Sir Desmond de Silva QC should instead review the papers on the case.
Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine stormed out of Downing Street when informed of the Government plan in October and has now confirmed her intention to launch a challenge in the High Court in Belfast next week.
Secretary of State Owen Paterson apologised at Westminster for the state’s collusion in the 1989 killing in which Mr Finucane was shot 14 times by gunmen from the loyalist Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in front of his wife and three children.
During talks on the peace process in 2001 the government of the day entered into an agreement with the Irish government to hold inquiries into allegations that their respective security forces were linked to a number of notorious murder cases, including the Finucane killing.
The Finucane family said that having considered their options, they were now to mount a legal challenge.
Ms Finucane said: “Not for the first time have we had to resort to legal proceedings to vindicate our legal rights.
“It is clear that the British Government have cynically reneged on the commitment made.
“The Cameron decision is also incompatible with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to life).
“We take the view that the decision not to hold a public judicial inquiry is just another obstacle which we will have to overcome.
“We are determined to get to the truth surrounding my husband’s murder. Our campaign will continue.”
The legal papers will be lodged in the High Court within days and a date for hearing will be sought.
In the wake of the Weston Park talks, it was eventually agreed that the Westminster government would conduct inquiries into four cases, while the Irish government would hold one inquiry.
All have been held, except the proposed probe into the Finucane case.
It is now known that many of those involved in the murder were agents of the state, but the family has said they want to find out who sanctioned the killing and to expose the full extent of the plot.
Mr Finucane was 39 when he was shot 14 times by the UDA gunmen as he was eating dinner.
His family have campaigned for a full public inquiry since the attack, and his widow has said she felt insulted after Mr Cameron proposed the QC-led review of her husband’s death.
Given Mr Finucane’s high-profile status as a lawyer who had successfully represented clients facing allegations of IRA activity, the claims of a security force role in the murder quickly emerged.
Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, asked by the British and Irish governments to examine the allegations of collusion following the Weston Park deal, recommended a public inquiry into the death.
A separate report by former Met commissioner Lord John Stevens in 2003 also said there was collusion.
2 December 2011
THE Secretary of State says he will ask the Republic of Ireland government to open its archives to satisfy unionist concerns about Dublin’s historic relationship with the Provisional IRA.
Owen Paterson made the commitment yesterday at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster in response to requests by Upper Bann DUP MP David Simpson.
The news comes after a major review of allegations of Dublin-PIRA collusion in the News Letter last week. It highlighted unionist anger at what is perceived as an ongoing revision of history to portray them as the main villains of the Troubles.
In the reports, University of Ulster Professor of Politics Henry Patterson called on Dublin to open its archives for the Arms Trial of 1970 in which Dublin ministers were accused of buying arms for the IRA.
Yesterday Mr Paterson said he would raise the issue of collusion with Dublin, adding: “Obviously there will be some key material in the Republic of Ireland.”
David Simpson said the matter was key to “healing” for Northern Ireland.
However, SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell strongly denied that Dublin had trained the IRA.
Mr Simpson opened the discussion on the topic of “successive Irish governments’ alleged failure to prevent terrorism along the border” and pressed Mr Paterson to ask the Irish government to make information on such historical matters available to unionists.
Secretary of State Mr Paterson said: “I think it is perfectly public knowledge that I am very interested in opening up archives and establishing opportunities for oral testimony and getting an oral archive. If there is to be a full history [of the Troubles] I think obviously we will have to discuss this with the Republic of Ireland to see how they would be making information available.”
Mr Simpson noted that the UK Prime Minister had previously come to the dispatch box and apologised for British state involvement in killing Catholics in Northern Ireland.
“Murder is murder and it is wrong but we have never had an opportunity where the Republic of Ireland has apologised for any wrongdoing or failure to prevent [terrorism],” he said.
After committing murders in Northern Ireland, the IRA often used the Republic of Ireland “as a safe haven, and used it to train the IRA”, he said.
The opening of state archives by Dublin “would go a long way if we are talking about healing in Northern Ireland and moving forward in Northern Ireland”.
He has been in touch with the Irish foreign minister on these issues and hopes to meet him soon, but he asked Mr Paterson to write in support of this meeting.
Mr Paterson said there was some interest among local parties and victims’ groups in just such a project but consensus on a way forward from local parties was key.
“If I am going to go down the archive route and the historian route obviously there will be some key material in the Republic of Ireland,” he said.
“Historians will want to have access so that will be something I will need to talk to the Republic of Ireland about.”
SDLP leader Mr McDonnell responded that “the Irish government did not train the Provisional IRA nor were they responsible for them and the record has to be corrected on that. Beyond that I welcome opening discussions on the past and any access that can be given.”
Wednesday November 30 2011
Tensions between Northern Ireland and the Republic could be heightened by a recent visit and action of the Irish prime minister, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has warned in the Commons.
Belfast North MP Nigel Dodds welcomed movements by the Northern Ireland Office to “draw a line under” the Finucane issue.
But, at Northern Ireland questions, he warned: “Do you agree the decision of the Irish prime minister Enda Kenny to come to Northern Ireland last week and seek to reopen this issue and launch an international campaign is deeply unhelpful to north-south relations and, in fact, invites comparisons to his attitude to neuter the Smithwick Inquiry investigations into the deaths of RUC officers?”
Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said: “The review into the Finucane case is going ahead. That is the decision of this Government and we believe it is the right decision. We inherited impasse from the previous government calling for an inquiry.
“We know there are strong feelings in Dublin on this issue and we have said privately and publicly we will recognise they will state those differences publicly, but I would assure you we will not let this issue damage in any way the excellent relations we have with the government in Dublin.”
Belfast Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane was killed by loyalist paramilitaries on February 12 1989. Two public investigations concluded that there was British state collusion in the murder and Mr Paterson issued an official apology earlier this year.
It was announced last month that a planned public inquiry into the affair is to be replaced by a review instead.