Loyalist killer’s explosive new claims about 1988 massacre
Milltown massacre gunman Michael Stone has told the Police Ombudsman that the weapon used in the attack was given to him by an RUC officer who was also in the UDA.
However the loyalist – who is serving a 30-year jail sentence for a sectarian murder campaign – insists his rogue cop contact had no idea what the police-issue Ruger revolver was to be used for.
The gun ended up being seized by republicans who chased after Stone following the cemetery slaughter.
The UDA killer also claims that IRA veteran Seanna Walsh, who was among this group, tried to shoot him in the head with the weapon but it jammed. Mr Walsh, now a Sinn Fein councillor in Belfast, refused to respond to Sunday Life inquiries about the allegation.
This newspaper further understands that the RUC officer who Stone says provided him with the Ruger took his own life in 1989, the year after the Milltown attack that claimed three lives. His name has been passed to the Police Ombudsman.
When asked if its investigators met and took statements from Stone, a spokesman for Marie Anderson’s office said: “We often speak to a range of people when following lines of inquiry in our investigations.
“These discussions are confidential and we would not wish to identify in public anyone who has provided us with information.”
Stone has previously admitted that an RUC officer drove him to collect the weapons used in the 1988 Milltown attack.
However, this is the first time he has confessed to having been handed the guns and ammo directly by a serving cop who was also in the UDA.
A close confidant of the 64-year-old loyalist told Sunday Life: “Michael was interviewed by the Police Ombudsman some three years ago regarding the Ruger. He told its officers it had been swapped with the quartermaster of a paramilitary organisation in Mid-Ulster some time prior to Milltown.
“The quartermaster had dual membership of both the RUC and a paramilitary organisation (UDA), which was not illegal at the time. The man had no knowledge of Stone’s intention for the weapon, it was not discussed.”
Stone, via his friend, claims the officer whose name is known to the Police Ombudsman, died in a suspicious suicide the following year.
The pal added: “The story was that false allegations regarding money and firearm certificates had been made against him.
“This co-operation, not collusion, between police and loyalist paramilitaries was down to them having a common enemy.”
Stone, who suffers from Motor Neurone disease and can barely walk, also made several other startling jailhouse revelations about the Millown massacre and his terror past.
A claim that IRA veteran turned Sinn Fein Belfast City councillor Seanna Walsh tried to shoot him in the head with one of his own weapons;
That his health has deteriorated significantly in the past year leading him to promise: “I will take nothing to the grave”.
Sinn Fein refused to respond to Stone’s claims that Cllr Walsh tried to execute the UDA gunman with his own weapon. The veteran republican admits to being among the mourners who gave chase to the loyalist after he had thrown hand-grenades and opened fire at the IRA Gibraltar Three’s funerals.
As of last night Walsh, who served more than 21 years in jail and read the Provo’s 2005 decommission statement, was neither confirming or denying that he tried to shoot Stone.
The Sinn Fein politician was caged in the Maze Prison on three occasions, firstly after being arrested in 1973 for robbing a bank and again in 1976 for possession of a firearm. From the Short Strand district of east Belfast, Walsh went on to become Officer Commanding (OC) of the IRA prisoners in the jail. He was arrested again in the 1980s after being caught making explosives and was released in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Recalling the moment Stone was apprehended by Milltown mourners after attacking the funerals of IRA members Mairead Farrell, Sean Savage and Dan McCann, the loyalist’s friend said: “Some of those giving chase were plain-clothed IRA volunteers. One of these men was Seanna Walsh who received shrapnel wounds.
“What Walsh doesn’t brag about is that he was the last person on the day in possession of the Ruger 357 owned by Stone. He chased Stone and when he thought he was out of ammo shouted ‘kill the Orange bastard’.”
Stone’s pal said the loyalist used a back-up Ruger to fire two shots at Walsh, who was not known to him, which missed and the republican responded by playing dead.
He added: “Minutes later when Stone reached the motorway and discarded the guns, one of which was jammed with bog debris, a voice was heard shouting, ‘stand back, stand back’.
“It was Walsh, and he stepped forward and attempted to fire the Ruger into Stone’s temple. He tried six times to no avail and placed the weapon in the waistband of his trousers.”
Stone was then bundled into a car hijacked by the IRA on the M1 motorway, but was rescued by RUC officers who sped to the scene. The UDA killer claims at this point, Walsh shouted “say it’s a citizen’s arrest”.
Two years ago the republican talked publicly about the injuries he received in the Milltown Massacre, saying a hand-grenade thrown near him by Stone “sizzled”.
Walsh explained: “I felt an impact on my inner thigh and I realised that I was injured. They actually put me into the hearse, they gave me anaesthetic and operated, took the shrapnel out and gave me a lot of stitches.”
After being taken into custody by police, Stone admitted carrying out six sectarian killings for which he was jailed for a minimum of 30 years.
He was freed under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in 2000 but returned to jail in 2006 for trying to murder Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness at Stormont. Despite being seriously ill, the loyalist is not eligible for release until at least 2024.
Stone’s Milltown victims were Thomas McErlane, John Murray and Kevin Brady, each of whom were attending the funerals of three IRA members executed by the SAS at Gibraltar.
The cemetery massacre was captured by a multitude of TV cameras making him infamous across the world. Prior to Milltown, the UDA hitman murdered innocent Catholics Patrick Brady, Kevin McPolin and Dermot Hackett.
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Ciaran Barnes for the original story
A Prominent Belfast republican Pat Fitzpatrick escaped death after a gunman’s weapon jammed during a botched hit at the weekend.
Fitzpatrick was shot once in the back as he made his way to the home of a relative of murdered IRA commander Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison in east Belfast’s Short Strand at about 7.45pm on Saturday. However, a bulletproof vest he was wearing took the force of the blast.
Sources say that after hearing a bang, he threw himself to the ground. It is believed that as he lay helpless, he heard a gun being cocked, indicating the weapon had jammed, so he jumped up and fled.
Sources say the gunman did not give chase as Fitzpatrick, who is in his late fifties, made his way to the home of another close relative of Mr Davison who also lives nearby.
Fitzpatrick, who also survived an attempt on his life in 1988, was taken to the hospital where he was treated for a back injury.
It is understood police later seized the bulletproof vest and his coat.
It is believed Fitzpatrick had received no recent warnings that his life might be at risk.
Sources said republicans are carrying out their own investigation and that “they are looking at all angles” including those with “past grudges” and “drug dealers”.
In August 2015 Fitzpatrick was named in court as a suspect in the killing of Kevin McGuigan (53) outside his Short Strand home that same month. Friends say he has denied any involvement.
McGuigan was suspected of involvement in Davison’s murder in May 2015 as he walked through the Markets area of south Belfast, about a mile away from the scene of Saturday’s shooting.
Police blamed members of the Provisional IRA and Action Against Drugs for the McGuigan killing but said there was no information to suggest it had been sanctioned or directed at a senior level in the republican movement.
Fitzpatrick was arrested at his west Belfast home days after the McGuigan killing. It later emerged that during a police raid he attempted to escape through a window with a Glock pistol. At the time he said he had the weapon to “protect his family”.
It has been suggested that Fitzpatrick continued to feel under threat.
The McGuigan killing sparked a political crisis with the DUP warning Sinn Féin faced expulsion from the executive if the IRA was found to be involved. Sinn Féin denied any suggestion of IRA involvement.
On Sunday night the party’s policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly condemned the latest attack.
“There is no place for guns in our society and those responsible for the attack must be taken off the streets and should face due process in the courts,” he said.
Justice Minister Naomi Long described the shooting as “a disgusting and reckless attack that could have resulted in loss of life”.
“Such actions have no place anywhere in our community,” she added.
Police carried out searches in the Short Strand area on Sunday morning.
A spokesman said: “Guns have no place in our community.
“We are fortunate that we are not dealing with a fatality today following this disgraceful attack in which a firearm was discharged in a residential area in the early evening.”
The spokesman added that those involved “do not represent our communities”.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Connla Young for the original story
The party has given an election pledge in the Republic to abolish local property tax, the south’s equivalent of the domestic regional rate.
Rates are the executive’s only significant tax-raising power, they will have to be raised to meet New Decade, New Approach commitments and Sinn Féin finance minister Conor Murphy has said he will consider it. He could focus on the commercial element of rates but that is already crushing town centres and small businesses, so householders will have to bear some of weight. It is a good sign for devolution that Murphy has not flatly ruled out an increase but it will be tricky for Sinn Féin to raise a tax on one side of the border when they are promising to scrap on the other.
As was seen during the three-year welfare reform crisis, maintaining cross-border consistency can drop an enormous spanner in Stormont’s works.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Newton Emerson for his original thoughts in his Saturday’s opinion page.
Spads are hand-picked individuals who advise ministers on how to stay in power, by making popular decisions
JIM Allister was half right. He correctly identified the need for legislation, to regulate the behaviour of Stormont’s special advisers (spads).
But he was wrong about his proposed new law. It needed just one sentence: “If ministers require advice on the political consequences of their policies and decisions, their party, and not the public, should pay for it.” (He might have called it the Abolition of Spade Act.) But our beloved Stormont agreed a new Code of Conduct for Spads, those lubricants of the wheels of government who apparently keep this wonderful semi-colony at its efficient best. So why do we need spads? (Answer: we don’t) What difference will the new Code of Conduct make? (Answer: none). How could Stormont work without them? (Answer: just as badly as now.)
, Mary Lou McDonald suggests that what is recorded in Burned about the SF Finance Minister’s behaviour was equivalent to the Irish Finance Minister taking advice from his special adviser. I think that’s misleading. (1/3)
With many thanks to: The Irish News and
Patrick Murphy for the original story.