Irish government ‘refused cooperation’ with probe into IRA attack

Warrenpoint ambushBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
The government of the Republic of Ireland allegedly ordered senior police officials not to assist an investigation into a 1979 attack by the Provisional Irish Republican Army that killed 18 British soldiers in the UK province of Northern Ireland. The attack, known as the Warrenpoint ambush, took place in the afternoon of August 27, when a British military convoy was blown up by a remote-controlled 500-pound fertilizer bomb hidden in a lorry loaded with straw bales. It was soon followed by a second massive bomb blast at a nearby house, and resulted in the British Army’s greatest loss of life in a single incident during the Northern Ireland Troubles. Now a retired officer of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), as the British police body in Northern Ireland was then known, has told an official government inquiry that the Irish government refused to collaborate with the investigation into the Warrenpoint ambush, and even ordered its senior police officers to distance themselves from it. The man, who testified behind closed doors through a video link from Belfast, cannot be named and is instead referred to in tribunal documents as ‘Witness 68’. All that is known about him is that he is a retired detective and retired from the RUC with a rank of Deputy Assistant Chief Constable. He told the Smithwick Tribunal that the government of the Republic of Ireland instructed its intelligence and law enforcement personnel to view the Warrenpoint ambush as a political crime and to abstain from the British-led criminal investigation into the killings. Consequently, in April 1980, when British RUC officials met with senior officers from the Garda’s (Irish police) Criminal Intelligence Division in Dublin, the Irish delegation informed British officials that the Irish Prime Minister, Jack Lynch, had given specific instructions that “no assistance would be given to the RUC”. Subsequently, the RUC discovered that a site located in the Republic of Ireland, which the British suspected had been used to detonate the bomb that exploded a few yards away at Warrenpoint, had been destroyed before forensic teams were able to examine it. Read more of this post

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US gave N. Ireland police weapons, spy equipment, despite Congress ban

Royal Ulster Constabulary forces in the 1980sBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Declassified documents show that thousands of American-made weapons, as well as spy equipment, ended up in the hands of Northern Ireland’s police force in the 1980s, despite a strict ban enacted by Congress. The ban was passed in 1979, following strong pressure by organized groups in the Irish-American community. The latter accused Northern Ireland’s police, known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), of severe human rights violations and systematically excluding Catholic recruits. But internal government documents released in Northern Ireland this week, reveal that thousands of pieces of American-made weaponry, as well as surveillance equipment, continued to get into the hands of the RUC, despite the official ban. According to the documents, which were released under the UK’s 30-year declassification rule, the RUC eventually managed to collect all 6,000 Ruger revolvers it had ordered from American manufacturers before 1979, when the Congressional ban was enacted. The weapons continued to be shipped to Northern Ireland by way of “third-party suppliers”, who sent them secretly and in small quantities, so as not to arouse suspicion. The documents also state that the RUC was able to “receive [from the United States] some US equipment for surveillance work which is arguably more sensitive than guns”. The documents do not specify if the White House was aware that the Congressional ban against selling weapons to the RUC was being broken, or if the weapons were being surreptitiously smuggled by the British government, which hid the shipments from Washington. But The Belfast News Letter, which accessed the declassified documents, said it spoke to “one former senior RUC officer” who said that “the Reagan Administration was aware of the shipments” and had “turned a blind eye to the issue”. Read more of this post

Inquiry examines whether IRA had mole inside Irish police

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

Irish leader used British-supplied bugs to spy on opponents: book

Charles Haughey

Charles Haughey

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Charles Haughey, Ireland’s Taoiseach (head of government) in the late 1970s, and on two instances in the 1980s, used audio surveillance devices supplied by a British security officer to spy on his domestic political opponents. This allegation is made by George Clarke, a former officer in the Special Branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (the name of the British police force in Northern Ireland until 2001), in his book Border Crossing, which was published last week. In it, Clarke says he purchased the devices at a specialist store in London, in 1979, and later lent them to an intelligence officer in the Garda, the police of the Republic of Ireland, for use in spy operations against the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Several months later, however, when Clarke requested that the devices be returned to him, he was told that they were in the possession of Charles Haughey, and that he was so fond of them that he simply refused to give them back. Read more of this post