TRANSCRIPTS OF OUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE JOINT OIREACHTAS SUB COMMITTEE
ON THE BARRON REPORT INTO THE BOMBING OF KAY'S TAVERN, DUNDALK
| 27th SEPT 2006 | HOME |
Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights
Dé Céadaoin, 27 Meán Fómhair 2006 - Wednesday, 27 September 2006
Hearing on the Barron Report
Ms Margaret Urwin: I intend to highlight points from the written report we submitted which we consider particularly important. Our report was divided into sections dealing with direct collusion, indirect collusion and the Garda investigations. I concur with Mr. Ó Dúlacháin that on the completion of the fourth Barron report we can confidently make links between four attacks in the South in the two year period from May 1974 to March 1976: the Dublin-Monaghan bombings of May 1974, the shooting of Mr. John Francis Greene in January 1975, the Dundalk bombing of December 1975 and the Castleblaney bombing of March 1976. In three cases bombs were placed without warnings. These cross-Border attacks claimed the lives of 38 people.
We have a body of evidence from the first and fourth Barron reports, the evidence of John Weir and the Wallace letters of 1975, as well as the memo and loyalist inventory of Wallace and the notebooks of Fred Holroyd. These are very important documents because they are contemporaneous sources, not something dreamed up at a later date. These records were written down during the period. The research carried out by the Pat Finucane Centre, as well as the papers obtained by the centre were particularly useful. We also obtained papers from and conducted research in the National Archives of the United Kingdom. This body of evidence points to the Glennane gang as the perpetrator of these atrocities. As Mr. Ó Dúlacháin stated, the gang comprised members of the British security forces, the RUC, the UDR and British Intelligence, together with loyalist paramilitaries. They operated from a safe base in County Armagh, the farmhouse of a member of the RUC reserve. The gang now can also be definitively linked to attacks north of the Border, including the attack on Donnelly's Bar, Silverbridge on the same night as the bombing in Dundalk, the Miami Showband murders, the murders of the Reavey and O'Dowd families and many more.
The committee heard such compelling evidence from all of the witnesses present yesterday that members could be left in no doubt that collusion was rife during this period. The ballistic evidence, as charted by Mr. Justice Barron in the fourth report, is very compelling, as it links the weapons used in many of the attacks and further links them directly to members of the security forces.
In the Wallace letters of 1975 many of the suspects are named. He directly states many were involved in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. The same names crop up again in the incidents at Dundalk, Castleblaney and Silverbridge, as well as in the case of the Miami Showband. In the Wallace letter of August 1975 he gives his source for this information as one of Craig's people. Craig Smelley was the head of MI6 in Northern Ireland. In his letter of September 1975 to a former colleague, Tony Stoughten, he names this group as the Protestant Task Force or the Protestant Action Force and states he was told that most of the loyalist sectarian killings which took place in Tyrone and Armagh in 1975, including the Irish showband murders, were carried out by the Protestant Task Force, PTF. He states there are also rumours that the group is linked to the special duties team at Lisburn. Lisburn was the location of the British Army headquarters and the special duties team was a special team of British soldiers involved in undercover work. His memorandum of 28 June 1974 to the GSO of Intelligence with an attached list of 66 loyalist paramilitaries is very important in that it includes the name of the RUC reserve who owned the farm at Glenanne and he had written RUC beside it. According to Mr. Justice Barron, this gentleman joined the RUC reserve in September 1974 but the list suggests he may well have been a member before that date. The important point to be made is that it proves beyond a reasonable doubt that this man's involvement with loyalist paramilitaries was known to the authorities in Northern Ireland as early as June 1974.
Another very important aspect is the information given to the Pat Finucane Centre and the families of the victims at Donnelly's Bar, Silverbridge, when they met the investigating officer who had investigated the atrocity. He told them that one RUC officer and two UDR members had been involved, as well as UVF members. He further told them that "permutations" of this group had also been involved in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the bombing of Kay's Tavern, Dundalk, the murder of the Reavey brothers and Sean Farmer and Colm McCartney at Altnamacken, County Armagh when returning from a GAA match in August 1975. The modus operandi was the same as that used in the shooting of the Miami Showband, a VCP. Then the people were murdered. That must be followed up because it involved a senior RUC officer, probably PSNI eventually, and he retired as a superintendent. He was not, therefore, just a constable in the RUC.
In regard to the allegation that four members of the RUC in Portadown were members of the UVF, Mr. Justice Barron mentioned in his report that he received this information from the Department of Foreign Affairs. He goes on to say that it is no longer available in any of the files of the Garda Síochána or the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and, further, that the information did not provide any names. We find this most unusual. During our research, we located papers in the national archives of the UK dealing with this very matter. This information was passed by the Irish ambassador to the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office on 20 August 1975. He was worried because the source of this information was considered to be very delicate and, for that reason, he decided against passing it direct to the Chief Constable of the RUC. He said that the knowledge of this was being restricted to the Ministers for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and Foreign Affairs and that, therefore, there should definitely be a file in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. It also seems that the names would have been provided. The British ambassador wanted further details but Mr. Seán Donlon, who was the senior official in the Department of Foreign Affairs, said that both Ministers had decided they could not pass on any more details at present, in case they would compromise the source. If these names were available to the sub-committee, it would be very helpful to it in its deliberations.
With regard to the Castleblaney bombing, it was stated yesterday that John Weir had said that this was carried out by the same RUC officer who was mentioned yesterday and the UDR corporal. John Weir told us in a telephone conversation that he believes it was carried out solely by these two men, one UDR and one RUC, just as they had carried out the bombing of the McArdle's Bar in Crossmaglen on 29 November 1974 - that is one that has not come up - where one man was killed; he died almost a year later. He said one would have driven the bomb car and the other the getaway car. He had also heard that they were stopped on the way out of Castleblaney at a checkpoint where the Keady and Newtonhamilton roads meet and that the UDR officer had his gun under his seat. He said that if they had been stopped by the Garda, instead of being waved on, he would have shot them.
Justice for the Forgotten believes that the intended target in Castleblayney may well have been the Derry to Dublin Ulsterbus, which was due to arrive and park at the exact spot where the bomb exploded at 8.15 p.m. The bus was delayed slightly because of the Garda checkpoint and arrived approximately two minutes after the bomb exploded. Apparently, the bus was very punctual and one could set one's clock by it. Sadly, one man, Patrick Moane, died. If, however, the bus had arrived on time, there could have been absolute carnage and a huge death toll. This belief is supported by the fact that the bomb car was parked with the boot facing out onto the street. As on previous occasions, this car was stolen in the Shankill Road area and, once again and as stated at previous hearings of the sub-committee, the owner reported the theft to Tenant Street RUC station. This example shows that this continued to be the modus operandi for obtaining cars to be used in bomb explosions, particularly in the Republic.
The shooting of John Francis Greene was dealt with in the first Barron report. Regarding the linkages of weapons, Mr. Justice Barron talks about a .38 Star pistol which was used to murder John Francis Greene. This weapon originally belonged to a UDR member from Loughgall who had connections with the UVF in the Shankill Road dating back as far 1966, when the modern UVF came into being. This weapon had been used in two earlier incidents, both in March 1973. It was then fitted with a new barrel and used in the murder of Greene in January 1975. It was again used to murder Mrs. Dorothy Traynor in Portadown in April 1975 and was found, along with an arsenal of weapons and ammunition, at a place called Ballynewry, near Portadown, in August 1979 at the home of a UDR member. The car belonging to one of the prime suspects for the murder of Dorothy Traynor was found at the scene of the Miami Showband murders
I will move on quickly to indirect collusion and definitions thereof. We feel that Mr. Justice Barron sets a very high bar in his definition of collusion. At its hearings into the second Barron report on 26 January 2005, Cormac Ó Dúlacháin told the sub-committee:
"It is very clear in a legal sense and in international law that providing cover constitutes an act of collusion. If one provides protection, obscures people from prosecution or fails to disclose information, one is acting as a participant in the overall event."
In his report on the murder of Pat Finucane, Judge Peter Cory stated that collusion includes the pretence of ignorance or unawareness of something one ought morally or officially or legally to oppose and to fail to take action against a known wrongdoing or misbehaviour. Judge Peter Smithwick, in his opening statement at the public tribunal of inquiry set up to inquire into an allegation of collusion into the murders of RUC officers Breen and Buchanan, said that the issue of collusion would be examined in the broadest sense of the word. He said that while it generally means the commission of an act, he was of the view that it should also be considered in terms of an omission or a failure to act.
We have provided several examples of indirect collusion, but I will just mention two. The issue of the Dundalk bomb car, and its theft and ownership, is a crucial element that has arisen from this Barron report. When Detective Sergeant Owen Corrigan appeared before the sub-committee in connection with hearings on the Ludlow report, he stated that the purpose of the visit of Superintendent Courtney and himself to Belfast on 15 February 1979 arose because he had received information regarding the bombing in Dundalk, specifically on the make and colour of the car used, the identity of a person and the location at which that person resided in Belfast. Arrangements were made and they travelled to Belfast and met with Mr. Bill Mooney, a senior CID officer, in the city. Superintendent Corrigan said that when they met him he seemed anxious about their visit, undertaking to help them in everything. He said that a member of the RUC was able to confirm the information that he had but during the course of their visit, Mooney told them that there would be no more investigation and that no co-operation would be forthcoming. He then left the police station. Detective Sergeant Corrigan made reference to the fact that the RUC Special Branch took precedence over CID and dictated what should and should not be done.
I understand Mr. Corrigan will be appearing today and he should be asked to clarify if he believes that they were refused co-operation on the instructions of RUC Special Branch. Deeply worrying questions arise from this incident. It is further compounded by the fact that Mr. Justice Barron has not been able to procure a copy of the statement given to the RUC by the owner of the bomb car. He reported that the statement is missing from both the Garda witness statement file and from the Garda investigation report. Although he sought a copy of this statement from the PSNI through the Garda Síochána, no copy of the statement has been forthcoming. We suggest this is most unusual and unacceptable because in all the previous cases involving car procurement for bomb attacks, statements of the car owners have been made available to the Garda. The Garda must also be asked whether a statement was made available and, if so, has it misplaced it.
The location and manner of the procurement of bomb cars are critical facts. In a number of bombings the cars used have been hijacked from the same Belfast street in the same manner with a direction that the owner report the theft at a specified time to the same police station. We are unable to make this comparison about Dundalk because the relevant information has not been disclosed.
In the case of the Miami Showband murders where we already have absolute evidence of direct collusion, with three serving members of the UDR having been convicted and two other serving members having blown themselves up at the scene, there is further indirect evidence in that a white Ford Escort, registration number 4933 LZ, was found at the scene of the attack. This car belonged to a gentleman from Portadown. During the first trial, that is the trial of Crozier and McDowell, this man was called to give evidence and he gave evidence that his car had been stolen while he was asleep. It seemed to be accepted by the prosecution that he was an innocent man whose car had been taken from outside his house.
However, the RUC special branch was well aware that this gentleman was no innocent whose car had simply been stolen at random. We know this from one of the notebooks of Captain Fred Holroyd, a military intelligence officer for Portadown, who linked this man with suspect T and another suspect for the attack on Donnelly's Bar, Silverbridge. He linked him with the chief suspect or at least the one who was identified in Dublin in Parnell Street as the driver of the Parnell Street car. He linked him with two other suspects, one for the Monaghan bombing and suspect C for the Dundalk bombing.
Captain Holroyd linked this man with three brothers in training. He said this man was training with these three brothers who were all members of the UVF in Portadown. He also linked him with one of the UDR members who was killed by his own bomb at the scene of the Miami Showband murders. Captain Holroyd also states in his notebook that this man was one of two prime suspects for the murder of Ms Dorothy Traynor in Portadown on 1 April 1975. He further states that he had received a photograph and a file on this man from Drew Coid who was the special branch sergeant in Portadown and that he was ordering complete surveillance on him.
Mr. Justice Barron in his conclusions seems almost Jesuitical in his arguments on collusion. He accepts that collusion occurs between members of the British security forces and loyalist paramilitaries. He also accepts that collusion was occurring around the time of the Dundalk bombing and that the inquiry would be shutting its eyes to reality if it accepted that such collaboration was limited to the cases in which collusion has been proved. Nevertheless, he goes on to state that he cannot prove that Dundalk itself involved collusion. This is despite the fact that he accepts that Dundalk and Silverbridge were co-ordinated attacks and we have absolute proof that collusion occurred in the case of Silverbridge.
Mr. John Weir in an e-mail to Justice for the Forgotten earlier this month said that Dundalk would have been planned at a high level to take place on the same evening as Silverbridge. He said that the RUC officer at the farm, the UDR corporal and a loyalist paramilitary would have been aware of the attack. He also claimed that the explosives used in all the bombings were supplied by a UDR captain who was working for British intelligence. In a further recent e-mail he stated to us that the explosives for Dundalk probably came through Glenanne. It must be accepted that the co-ordinated attacks on Dundalk and Silverbridge involved a conspiracy. We do not need proof that senior members of the British security forces planned or planted the bomb in Dundalk in order to state confidently that collusion occurred. If security force members are proved to have carried out one attack, then they are equally culpable for the second attack.
It is important to remember that all the Barron inquiries have been frustrated by the absence of any real co-operation from the UK security forces. There has been no independent examination or assessment of the information that intelligence agencies had in the 1970s or have now. The information supplied is but a fragment of a much larger picture.
I was going to deal with recrystallised ammonium nitrrate but I will not because of the time constraints, at any rate the committee members have the detail of it.
I will move on to final aspect, which is the Garda investigation. Mr. Justice Barron highlights the fact that almost the exact same wording is used by the Garda officer in writing up the report on the Dundalk investigation as that used by the officer in writing up the report on the Monaghan bombing 18 months earlier. This is a cause of grave concern as it is strongly suggestive of merely going through the motions. The exact wording is to be found on page 50 of this Barron report, the fourth one. The first sentence reads: "It will be appreciated that investigations were greatly hampered by reason of the fact that no direct enquiries could be made in the area where the crime originated." The impression being given here once again is that there was little formal co-operation or dealings between the Northern security forces and the Garda in December 1975 to January 1976. This is a total misrepresentation of the facts.
Mr. Cooney told the sub-committee on 28 January 2004 that the Irish Government felt it necessary to put in place formal structures to demonstrate there was a will to co-operate in the fight against terrorism. The reality was that the Irish Government was yielding to sustained pressure from the British since the beginning of 1974 to do this. Mr. Cooney went on to say that following that meeting, as the years went on, they were refined and provided for consultation at all levels right up to Commissioner and the head of the RUC. The panels were set up and suffice to say they were co-chaired by senior officers from both forces. The two officers from the Garda who co-chaired these technical panels were Assistant Commissioner Edmund Garvey and the then chief superintendent Laurence Wren who later became Commissioner.
One of those on the RUC side, Detective Chief Constable Bailey reported in April 1975 to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Northern Ireland Office that he was very satisfied with the work of the panels and reported he had a direct line with his opposite number in Dublin, namely, Assistant Commissioner Garvey. He said that progress had been particularly encouraging regarding intelligence. By July 1975, the Garda was in a position to use various police data banks in the North because this was stated by Mr. Cooney to Lord Harris at a meeting on 2 July 1975.
In September 1975, a meeting was held to discuss arrangements to help the Garda to improve radio communications by mounting X-ray radios in Garda vehicles and at static locations. Previously, the Garda had accepted the loan of a number of X-ray sets provided by the British army. The installation of direct telephone links between the Garda and the RUC was discussed and secure speech equipment known as Goliath had been set up, providing improved communication along the Border.