Martin McGartland claims 1999 murder plot was covered up to keep peace process alive
A former British agent who infiltrated the IRA says an internal police report has finally confirmed that he was targeted and shot by the group in a murder plot that he alleges was covered up by the government.
The Guardian has seen a copy of a review by three forces into Northumbria police’s investigation of the 1999 attempted murder of Martin McGartland.
McGartland was recruited by the RUC special branch to infiltrate and undermine the Belfast IRA in the late 1980s. His exploits were later turned into the film Fifty Dead Men Walking starring Jim Sturgess and Ben Kingsley.
The police document is a “major crime unit investigation review” by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire forces.
Its findings appear to support McGartland’s claims over the past two decades that the IRA rather than a local north-eastern criminal gang was behind the murder attempt in Whitley Bay on 17 June 1999.
In the days, weeks and months after McGartland was shot and seriously wounded, both Northumbria police and the then Labour government refused to confirm that the IRA was responsible.
McGartland, along with unionist politicians at the time, alleged that the truth was covered up to keep the IRA and Sinn Féin wedded to the fledgling post Good Friday agreement peace process.
In their review, the three constabularies led by Jon Boutcher, the ex-Bedfordshire chief constable and head of another multimillion investigation into another army spy in the IRA – Stake Knife – concluded that republican paramilitaries did try to kill McGartland.
Among 60 recommendations to the Northumbria police regarding the McGartland shooting, the police forces suggest: “That Northumbria police must make a formal media release acknowledging the re-investigation of the attempted murder of Mr McGartland. This should be underpinned by a public statement that the original shooting was most likely associated with Mr McGartland’s background within the IRA and having acted as an agent of the security services within the republican areas of Belfast and was carried out by a paramilitary active service unit.”
The report also dismisses any suggestion that the shooting was connected to a dispute between McGartland and drug dealers in north-east England. McGartland has always alleged that this line of inquiry was “invented and fed” to media sources by either MI5 or elements of the Blair government to deflect from the IRA’s role in the botched assassination.
“The review has not uncovered any credible evidence of a specific threat to the victim at the hands of ‘local criminals’ or indeed that gives any indication of this being related to any of the victim’s business, his work or his private life within the locality,” the report says.
In addition to calling for a fresh investigation into the 1999 attack on McGartland, the review suggests that “NP (Northumbria police) to consider external force to progress investigation in its entirety”.
Furthermore, it recommends that “key roles” in that fresh investigation “should be filled by persons not connected to NP (Northumbria police)”.
The report also appears to suggest that the IRA line of inquiry was known to the Northumbria police in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
“Most critically, he (an officer named only as Police R by the review) was of the considered view that the attack was most likely carried out by the Provisional IRA and that this fact was known to the original SIO (senior investigations officer) within a very short timeframe following the attack. He (Police R) would offer no explanation as to why this had not been acknowledged much earlier within the investigation, and that this remained as a significant issue between the victim and the police,” the report says.
McGartland told the Guardian that this finding in particular proved that from the outset officers in Northumbria police knew that the IRA was behind the shooting. The ex-spy insisted this line was “covered up and obscured by false, malicious lies” by senior figures in the security and political establishment to conceal the IRA’s role at a delicate stage in the peace process.
On the report’s main findings, McGartland said: “I am now urging the current chief constable of Northumbria police to immediately admit and acknowledge that the IRA had been behind my June 1999 attempted murder. I am also calling on him to swiftly agree to an external police force to carry out my unsolved attempted murder investigation. I have absolutely no trust, faith or confidence in Northumbria police nor its crime department or any of its chief or senior officers when it concerns me and my cases.”
A spokesperson for Northumbria police said: “We can confirm this case has remained open since the shooting in 1999. Following a recent review, the force are investing a significant and dedicated resource into progressing the investigation.
“The classification of the incident is currently under further review.”
The Northumbria police at this stage however has declined to confirm or deny that the van believed to have been used by the gang that shot McGartland has since been destroyed.
On the wider implications of the report’s findings, McGartland added: “The Northumbria police knew the IRA had been behind my shooting, that they acted in consort with MI5, the Home Office and the then Blair Labour government (and subsequent governments) covered it up to protect not only the IRA as an organisation but the individual IRA members who tried to murder me. And this was done as part of a secret deal between police, security service and government as a result of the Good Friday peace agreement.”
In 1999 McGartland was shot six times by two gunmen outside his home in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside.
Eight years earlier the Belfast-born agent became the only person ever to escape from the IRA’s notorious internal mole hunting unit, the so-called “Headhunters” or “Nutting Squad”.
McGartland dived out of a third storey flat in west Belfast where the IRA were holding him before he was to be handed over to the head of the Provisionals’ security team which was led by a man named Stake Knife, one of Britain’s most important agents inside the republican terror group.
With many thanks to: The Guardian and Henry McDonald for the original story
Follow these links to find out more: https://youtu.be/1NtCYswQkI4
A long-running campaign to get a posthumous medal for an IRA Volunteer has finally come to a successful conclusion.
Joe Murphy, whose story is little known outside of Cork, died on hunger strike in Cork Gaol on the same day, October 25, 1920, as Terence MacSwiney, then Lord Mayor of Cork, who also died from hunger strike, but in Brixton Prison.
His father, Timothy Murphy, requested a pension as recognition for Joe’s Volunteer service as early as May 1, 1923, but was denied this from the Department of Defence.
However, at some later point, Timothy was granted a gratuity payment of £75.
The requests for recognition of his Volunteer service continued from his wife, Nora Murphy, after the death of her husband. Further family requests were made up to 1954, but again proved unfruitful.
In recent times the family persisted again and eventually the Minister with responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe, announced that the family would receive a 1917-1921 Service Medal in recognition of Murphy’s service to the State.
It was presented tonight to members of the extended Murphy family at a reception in City Hall hosted by Lord Mayor Cllr Mick Finn.
Murphy was born in Massachusetts to Irish parents who subsequently returned to their native Cork when he was a young child. He joined the Volunteers in 1917 and became a member of H Company, 2nd Battalion, Cork No.1 Brigade.
He was involved in several attacks on British military posts and a well-publicised attack on Farran RIC barracks. He was arrested by British forces on July 15, 1920, and was imprisoned.
Murphy was among a group of 60 prisoners who went on hunger strike when their political status was taken away from them and regular newspaper articles would cover the condition of the men.
On October 8, Joe Murphy and the others on hunger strike in Cork Gaol wrote a letter to MacSwiney in Brixton expressing solidarity with him and urging him to hold fast.
British prime minister Lloyd George was asked to show mercy to the prisoners. Instead, he said they were hastening their own deaths by refusing food.
A further appeal was made for Murphy to stand formal trial for the possession of a bomb, the charge on which he was imprisoned. However, it was denied by the British authorities on the basis that he wasn’t in a proper condition due to his hunger strike.
Murphy’s condition deteriorated sharply in the meantime and he couldn’t even drink water.
On October 17, Commandant Fitzgerald died and eight days later so did Murphy, in the presence of family and friends.
A plaque was erected to his memory at his family home in Pouladuff and some years later the then Cork Corporation named a road after him in Ballyphehane.
Fiona Hennessy, whose mother, Ann O’Sullivan, is a niece of Joe Murphy, said the entire family is delighted with the special reception in City Hall “and needless to say, very proud about the awarding of the medal”.
“That he’s finally being rewarded with an official service medal of honour is just and right and credit to his family for pursuing it for almost a century. It means his memory and place in history will live on even more,” Cllr Finn said.
The ceremony was attended by senior military personnel, including Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett.
With many thanks to: Breaking News Co Cork and Sean O’Riordan for the original story
Follow these link to find out more: http://homepage.eircom.net/~corkcounty/Timeline/jmurphy.htm
A former prisoner officer says he told the Department of Justice almost 30 years ago that inmates’ meetings with their lawyers were being secretly recorded in Portlaoise prison.
Seán O’Brien says he was taken aback when justice minister Charlie Flanagan expressed concern on Friday about a report from Patricia Gilheaney, the inspector of prisons, of an investigation she conducted into claims by a serving officer that conversations between prisoners and solicitors had been monitored. The report is being considered by Séamus Woulfe, the attorney-general.
“I know it happened because I was one of the officers who recorded them,” said O’Brien. “I was instructed to record meetings between certain IRA prisoners and their solicitors. I had to listen through the wall in the reception area next to where the legal meetings took place.
“One time, I remember another officer putting a glass to the wall to enhance the audio of the legal visit.
“We wrote down what we heard on ‘a half-sheet’ — an official form that was about A4 size. Then we’d hand it over to [the authorities].”
O’Brien, from Clara, Co Offaly, said he attended a meeting with a senior official in the Department of Justice on June 14, 1988, and told him about the recordings. He claims to have spoken “numerous times about it” with Flanagan, a local TD. Their last conversation, according to O’Brien, was in December 2014 when Flanagan was the minister for foreign affairs.
Flanagan’s spokeswoman said the minister has known O’Brien for more than 30 years. “He believes that any issues raised by Mr O’Brien with him were in his capacity as a constituency TD and were, the minister believes, dealt with appropriately.”
O’Brien said he also discussed the issue with Enda Kenny when he was the taoiseach, and it was referred to an independent review mechanism set up by Frances Fitzgerald, then the justice minister. O’Brien’s claims were not referred onward for further investigation.
O’Brien, 59, was dismissed on health grounds from the Irish Prison Service in 1989, 12 months after he had pursued Patrick McVeigh, an IRA prisoner, and stopped him escaping.
Kevin Winters, O’Brien’s solicitor, said: “We are instructed to consider legal proceedings on his behalf in relation to his treatment in response to what he was saying, in particular about the issue of surveillance. We will be writing to the minister this week and the specific nature of the legal action will be dictated by the response.”
With many thanks to: The Irish Times and Justine McCarthy for the original story
A FORMER Royal Marine jailed for stockpiling weapons and bomb materials has turned “assisting offender”(tout) to accuse an old so-called school acquaintance of involvement in the dissident republican plot, the High Court has heard.
Prosecutors revealed Ciaran Maxwell has made statements alleging Niall Lehd helped source and construct explosives recovered from up to nine different hides in areas around their hometown of Larne, Co Antrim.
Maxwell (32) is currently serving an 18-year prison term after admitting a series of terror-related offences.
His evidence is now being relied on as part of the case against 29-year-old Lehd.
Details emerged as Lehd was granted bail on charges of preparing terrorist acts, possessing explosives with intent to endanger life, and possessing documents useful to terrorism.
The alleged offences relate to the discovery of arms dumps in 2016.
Hides constructed out of plastic barrels and buried in the ground contained mines, explosive projectiles, pimp bombs, handguns and ammunition, improvised detonators, timer power units, command wires and command wires.
Police uniforms were also located in the secret storage, the court heard.
A Crown lawyer disclosed Maxwell has provided two statements under the terms of Serious Organised Crime and Police Act in which he claims Lehd aided in amassing the arsenal of weapons.
Maxwell alleges the pair went to the same school, lived in the same estate and met up when he returned on leave from the Royal Marines, the court heard.
According to his account they also constructed component parts ordered from eBay and Amazon.
A judge was told Lehd is allegedly linked to three separate pipe bombing incidents in Carnlough, Co Antrim, north Belfast and Armagh.
“Essentially the prosecution rely on Ciaran Maxwell as an assisting offender in terms of his evidence that Niall Lehd was involved in this offending,” the prosecutor said.
Seamus Lannon, defending, disputed the assertion that the two men went to school together.
With no DNA connecting Lehd to the hides, the barrister suggested Maxwell had pointed the finger at just his client in an attempt to get a reduced sentence.
“Is he raising the issue of Niall Lehd because Niall Lehd is a convenient patsy who is no danger to anyone?” the barrister asked.
“We say the credibility of Ciaran Maxwell is shot, and the Crown case here is fundamentally weak.”
Granting bail on strict conditions, Mr Justice McAlinden stressed police must be allowed to examine and search computers or internet-enabled devices at Lehd’s home.
He warned that any evidence of browser histories being cleared will be considered a breach of the release terms.
With many thanks to the: Irish Republican Prisoner News for the original posting.
From Irish News
Today sees the release of hundreds of previously secret government files in Belfast and Dublin. From confidential discussions about paramilitary killings and the 1994 ceasefires, to cross-border and transatlantic diplomatic rows, they shed light on key events during the Troubles and emerging peace process. Reports by political historian Dr Éamon Phoenix and the Press Association
THE UVF was involved in secret talks with the IRA which discussed the prospect of a federal Ireland, newly-released state papers have claimed.
According to a document marked “Secret” in 1988, the meetings were facilitated by Fr John Murphy, a chaplain in the Maze prison.
The memo, written to the Taoiseach’s office and among hundreds of government files released in Dublin and Belfast today, said the priest was anxious to keep the meetings confidential and listed the three main enemies of the talks as “the NIO (Northern Ireland Office), the RUC and the DUP”.
“Fr Murphy was frankly surprised at the speed with which events had moved and was particularly surprised at the signs of apparent flexibility being shown by the UVF in this exercise where they demonstrated a willingness to at least talk about a wide range of possible future arrangements for Ireland, not excluding concepts like a federal Ireland,” wrote Brendan Mahon of the Anglo Irish Division.
He said Fr Murphy’s understanding of the concept of a federal Ireland was “based on the four provinces including a nine-county Ulster with a separate province-type arrangement for Dublin similar to the District of Columbia in the US”.
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Federalism is a process by which a central and regional government share power, which indicates Dublin would have a say in a Stormont government.
The papers did not specify whether the UK would have a continued role.
“John Murphy has now informed me on a highly-confidential basis that these talks have now moved outside of the confines of the prison and that the army council of the IRA and the leadership of UVF have now agreed to separate talks with the chaplains outside of the prison,” Mr Mahon wrote.
With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story