Much is said about victims. We have a Commissioner for them. She has an office and staff. This costs us about £1,000,000 each year. I have never sought help from them. Why, I hear you say Dear Reader, am I blogging about this, especially on an Ulster summer day? For this reason. Occasionally in the battle for compensation from Libya, a battle won for their citizens by the USA, Italy,France and Germany but disgracefully lost by Perfidious Albion.I have found myself writing about “victims” as if I am one. Also, more than one person has said “you’re forever portraying yourself as a victim”. So I’ve decided to think about what I am. To begin. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about my parents. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. I’m a citizen of the United Kingdom. That gives me rights and responsibilities. I contend that the murders of my parents didn’t take place in a vacuum. They happened when the State had so penetrated the terrorists and so perverted justice that not only did one arm know who killed my parents but at a meeting on the Shankill Road another arm, the RUC , gave the UDA a name and the UFF set out to kill him the night my mother died. He was Sean Keenan, a well known Republican from Riverdale Park South. He survived, as he did when he was shot in 1984, along with Adams. So perhaps I am a vengeful angry citizen. I represented the Crown in court for twenty five years. How many times did the state deceive me and the court? But wait! In some respects I am a victim and I shouldn’t shy away. I’m a victim of people who should have been at my parents’ funeral and weren’t, I’m thinking of a particular grandson. I’m a victim of a spouse whose only solution was to hand me a glass of wine so that she was not bothered by my problems. I’m a victim of the Bar Library which never enquired into my well being for twenty five years until I got into trouble , then briefed Frazer Elliott , that icy cold , presbyterian, paragon of virtue to prosecute me. Not unexpected in that cold house for unionists. I’m a victim of senior police officers who continue to lie to me about what intelligence exists. I’m a victim of the many people who tell me to “get over it” or that it is “a legacy issue” or that “we need to move on”. I’m a victim of those erstwhile friends and colleagues who say “the grief has got to him” and pass by on the other side of the street.I’m a victim of the State which is just passing time until I , and others like me, pass on. So here I stand. A victim. But that is different from victimhood. My daughter criticises me for “not taking responsibility for myself” . An interesting accusation. Instead I’ve taken the responsibility of the fight for justice. I don’t regret that, nor what it has cost me [ my career, my house my family] , nor what the future holds. I can now go several days without seeing or talking to a soul. At the last I hope , though, that some will see me as a son who tried his best for his parents. Franz Schubert said:” Every night when I go to bed , I hope that I may never wake again and every morning renews my grief.”
The murderers of my parents
On this day, twenty five years ago, my Dad drove his car out of the driveway and parked it on the road. He had been retired from the RUC for three years, having been mortared at New Barnsley, where his colleague Dessie Dobbin, was killed. It is likely , given the forensic findings, that he checked underneath it before he moved it from the drive. At about ten o’clock, he and my mother drove off. About four hundred yards down the road a bomb, placed underneath the vehicle exploded. My Dad was dead on arrival at the Mater Hospital. My Mum , having sustained severe head injuries , died the next day.
PIRA claimed responsibility and Adams said it might not have been a good operation. But then , he was never in the IRA.
The cause of Irish unity was not progressed one inch but my daughter never knew her Grandparents.
The persons responsible for these murders were as follows.
First there had to be an active service unit, carrying out these brave acts. There were three operational in the greater Belfast area in 1990.
Bomb Team A, as I shall call it , was comprised, inter alia, of Rosaleen McCorley MLA and James Donnelly. They were arrested in January 1990 in the act of placing a bomb under a policeman’s car.
Bomb Team B had in its ranks Rosena Brown and Davy Adams [brother of Gerry]. It might have had Martin McGartland also , but he has denied this to me. Brown, Paul McCullough and Stephen Canning were arrested in 1992 in possession of a bomb.
Bomb Team C was comprised of Martin McGartland, Fitzsimmons and McFadden. They carried out a number of operations before McFadden and Fitzsimmons were arrested in North Belfast in December 1990, in possession of two bombs and a gun. Interestingly, McGartland was not at the scene.
Therefore in June 1990 , either bomb team B or C could have carried out the attack.
Councillor Sean Keenan took part in the attack. He was rewarded for his efforts on 7 June when a UDA/UFF team tried to kill him. He had already been shot in the company of Gerry Adams. Keenan’s house was heavily fortified. I wonder why? Did the state pay for it?
The attack was scouted by Sean Maguire , from Ardoyne. He was an “intelligence officer” and a state agent , a tout. He betrayed Larry Marley to the Loyalists, in order to please his British masters. He is now PR adviser to Martin McGuinness and can be spotted, if you are quick enough , in the background,behind Grandpa McGuinness on the Hill. I wonder where Sean banked his money?
The operations officer, responsible for coordinating attacks, was Paddy Fern. The bomb was provided by McCartney, who was Quartermaster.
The police have told me that they know the identities of the bomb makers. Bombs were kept in the “Rock Streets” off the Falls.
Next in the chain of command was Spike Murray.
The OC Belfast was Brian Gillen an agent of the Crown.
The operation had to be approved by Martin McGuinness, head of northern command. Read Ed Moloney’s book about this [p347] and also the allegations made by Scappaticci, in conversations with journalists.
Both the RUC Special Branch [SB] and the Army’s Force Research Unit [FRU] were involved in the recruiting and handling of agents. Some agents were placed in organisations, others were recruited from their ranks.
The purpose of an agent was to report on the activities of the terrorist group so as to enable the state to disrupt its activities and arrest its members.
There were no rules governing the use of these agents in 1990, particularly in relation to the criminal actives in which they might participate. Issues arose as to what would happen if an agent told his handlers that he was about to take part in a crime or if he declared that he had in fact committed an offence.
De Silva documents the attempts made by the RUC and the Army to obtain guidance from the state. He also documents how the state consistently failed to give such guidance and deliberately dragged its heels on the issue.
Without any structure both SB and FRU worked in a vacuum. They had agents placed in the heart of Sinn Fein/IRA, many are still there. Apart from Donaldson and ‘Scap’ obviously. I’m not convinced that Scap is Stake Knife. What about Padraic Wilson, does he fit the profile?
SB and FRU played God. De Silva documents how at one time the Loyalists planned to kill Oliver Kelly, solicitor. This seemed like a good plan until the state placed a higher value on him, because he was a moderating influence on hunger strikers, whereupon FRU told the Loyalists to back off. The same happened to a plan to kill Adams in 1987. Why was Adams so valuable then? Finucane was apparently disposable.
In assessing a planned terrorist attack SB/FRU considered two issues:
1. The value of the target to the state, or not.
2. Any potential danger to their “asset’ the agent.
Consider my list of agents, above. They must have provided SB/FRU with a wealth of information. Not every operation could be stopped because the agent’s colleagues and masters would become suspicious. There are only so many times that extra police can flood an area or an Army checkpoint appears.
So every so often a attack has to get through, even though SB/FRU have been warned. Or perhaps the agent ‘forgot’ to tell his handlers.
So, on the morning of 6th June 1990, nobody came to the rescue of James and Ellen Sefton.
After my Dad had checked his car and left it outside the house, PIRA planted a bomb underneath it. I know this because the ATO opined that the car travelled as far as it did because the timer, set for an hour, had not wound down before the start of the journey.
Ultimately, the state is responsible for their deaths.
My parents had a right to life and an expectation that the state would protect them. Instead the state protected the agent and the process. Read the documents in de Silva relating to the prosecution of Nelson to get a feel for how far the state would go to protect the process.
Although the RUC and FRU were not assisted by the state in how to run informers,that is no excuse. The RUC was staffed by ordinary men and women from this Province, some of whom would have known my Dad. Shame on them for being part of an organisation which practised this witchcraft.
Perhaps even now, twenty five years on, one of them might have the decency to come clean, before they have a chat with their Maker.
I am , of course, leaving aside the prospect of a Republican having a conscience.
I am not alone in having suffered this injustice. I am not , by a long way, the worst example.
I hope, though, that others, similarly afflicted may be given some encouragement to enquire into their own tragedies.