Tuesday 15 October 2019

Ceasefire meant nothing to gangs

It's only four years since the IRA as an organisation stopped killing people, and it was responsible for over 40 murders since calling its final ceasefire in 1997, writes Jim Cusack

The point made last week by David Kelly, the son of the soldier Patrick Kelly, who was shot dead alongside garda recruit Gary Sheehan in Leitrim in November 1983, that Martin McGuinness should tell what he knows about the murders remains a valid one -- especially in respect of more than 40 people murdered by the IRA since calling its ceasefire.

IRA gangs went on killing people for reasons varying from personal disputes to perceived slights to the IRA's authority to eliminating drug dealers who refused to pay protection money. In every instance, there were cover-ups by the IRA, intimidation of witnesses and the destruction of evidence. The IRA leadership -- of which McGuinness remained a very senior member -- was fully aware of the circumstances surrounding the murders but made efforts only to ensure its members were protected from the law.

In the case of the latest murder, that of 21-year-old Paul Quinn, beaten to death by the south Armagh IRA after Mr Quinn had a confrontation with one of its members, the IRA leadership threw up a wall of silence around the killers. Gardai and the PSNI carried out extensive inquiries and established the identities of the men who murdered Paul Quinn but, aside from statements from the young man's family and friends, were unable to gather any admissions or evidence. The gang that beat Paul Quinn with iron bars wore head-to-toe protective suits and gloves and left no DNA evidence at the scene of the murder, a shed just south of the Border in Co Monaghan.

The only case in which police on either side of the Border were able to gain a conviction in respect of a recent IRA murder -- despite massive intimidation and threats to murder witnesses -- was of south Dublin IRA boss Bernard Dempsey, who shot dead Liberties man James Curran, 42, in full view of customers of the Green Lizard pub in April 2005. Mr Curran was murdered because he had publicly "slagged off" Dempsey in another pub the previous Christmas for taking protection money from heroin dealers.

Dempsey is the only IRA member to be convicted of murder in more than 40 cases since the IRA called its last ceasefire in August 1997.

The IRA leadership -- and a large portion of working class people in south and north inner Dublin -- knew very well who shot dead another innocent local man, Joseph Rafferty, 29, a father of one in April 2004. Again no effort was made to identify the killer, a well-known IRA man and Sinn Fein member from the north inner city. He remains at large today. He murdered Joseph Rafferty because of a perceived slight -- a common reason among those killed since the ceasefire.

In Martin McGuinness' back yard in Derry, two innocent local men were murdered by the IRA after, again, becoming involved in disputes with IRA members.

Mark Robinson, 22, the father of a small baby, was also involved in a pub fight with another notorious Derry IRA man. An IRA gang armed with scaffolding poles and a butcher's knife ambushed him near his home in the Galliagh area on April 30, 2001, and stabbed and beat him to death.

In October 2003, Jimmy McGinley, 23, a friend of Mark Robinson's, became involved in a confrontation with Derry IRA man Bart Fisher who stabbed McGinley once in the heart. Fisher was convicted of manslaughter and received three years after the Crown Prosecution Service dropped a charge of murder as no witnesses were prepared to testify. McGinley's family were subjected to threats and intimidation throughout Fisher's trial.

The IRA and Sinn Fein leadership conducted a major cover-up and protection operation for the murderers of Belfast father-of-two Robert McCartney, 33, who was also beaten and stabbed to death by IRA members in Belfast in January 2005. No one was ever convicted of the murder.

ANALYSIS pages 27, 28, 29, 30

Gerry Adams advised potential witnesses not to speak to police but to make statements to solicitors. About 70 IRA and Sinn Fein members witnessed events inside the bar before Mr McCartney was murdered in an adjoining laneway but none spoke to police and nearly all claimed to have been in the toilet as the events unfolded.

The others who were murdered include:

Gareth O'Connor, 24, disappeared while travelling through south Armagh on March 11, 2003. Gardai believe he was murdered by the IRA who concealed the killing by driving O'Connor's car into the Newry Canal, where it lay undiscovered for two years.

Mathew Burns, 26, was sitting in his car when gunmen opened fire, killing Burns and injuring his brother at Castlewellan, Co Down, on February 21, 2002. He was murdered because of a vendetta against his family, which began over an incident in which children of a local IRA man vandalised Burns' mother's home.

This escalated and reached a point where seven IRA men ambushed Burns but the champion kick boxer beat them all off. The decision was then taken to murder him. After his death, Sinn Fein sources hinted that Burns was killed because he was a drug dealer. He had no involvement in drugs and was a health fanatic.

Seamus 'Shavo' Hogan, 47, was shot dead by an IRA hit squad as he emerged from the Transport Club in Crumlin on July 14, 2001. Shavo, who once was a close associate of 'The General', Martin Cahill, refused to pay protection money and suffered the consequences.

Michael Magee, 34, was recovering from a savage IRA punishment beating at his home in Downpatrick on June 11, 2001, when a masked gang broke in and shot him dead at point-blank range

Paul Daly, 38, was sitting with his 11-year-old daughter in his car near the nationalist Unity Flats in Belfast on May 4, 2001, when two gunmen approached and shot him. Daly was a known drug dealer who did not pay protection.

Christopher O'Kane, 37, was shot dead outside a Derry pub on April 21, 2001. O'Kane was a small-time drug dealer who had a number of run-ins with local IRA figures.

Bobby McGuigan, 36, the Lurgan, Co Armagh, father of a young son, was shot dead at point-blank range as he sat in his car on February 27, 2001. Republicans claim McGuigan was a drug dealer, but local people say he was murdered because of an argument with the local IRA boss.

Kieran Smyth was found shot through the head at Curraha, Co Meath, on February 9, 2001. Originally from Mullaghbawn in south Armagh, he had been abducted then beaten and tortured for three days before being brought to farmland in Co Meath and his head bound in masking tape before being shot with a shotgun. It is believed a senior IRA man in south Armagh owed Smyth money from the sale of smuggled cigarettes and when Smyth pushed for payment he was murdered.

Edmund McCoy, 28, was sitting in a bar at Dunmurry in south Belfast when three gunmen walked in and shot him in the head and stomach on May 29, 2000. McCoy was a Catholic who associated with Protestant drug dealers.

Nicholas 'Mad Nicky' O'Hare, 34, was shot dead in Dundalk on August 19, 2000. O'Hare was a former INLA man heavily involved in criminality. He was believed to have been murdered by the IRA in retaliation for the killing of a Dundalk man, Stephen Connolly, three weeks earlier.

Patrick Quinn, 32, was also accused of being a drug dealer after his murder on September 29, 2000, as he sat drinking in the Depot Bar in Magherafelt, Co Derry, though his family and friends strongly denied the claim.

Joseph O'Connor, 26, was a dissident republican who was shot dead near his mother's home in the Ballymurphy estate in west Belfast on October 13, 2000. The IRA never admitted the killing, which local people said was carried out because O'Connor was running a smuggled cigarette racket in competition with the local IRA.

Trevor Kells, 35, was a Protestant taxi driver who answered a call to Ardoyne on December 5, 2000, and was shot dead by two gunmen. It was a sectarian murder apparently in retaliation for Kells' suspected involvement in a loyalist assassination in the Seventies.

Joseph Foran, 38, had been a partner in crime of PJ Judge, who was previously shot dead by the IRA in 1996. He was sitting in a car in Finglas with his girlfriend when two gunmen approached and shot him dead on February 26, 2000. Again local sources say Foran was shot by the IRA at the behest of his rivals in the local drugs trade.

Thomas 'Tomo' Byrne, 41, married with one young son, was shot dead as he enjoyed a drink with friends at O'Neill's pub in Summerhill in Dublin's north inner city on April 30, 2000. The same IRA man who

ordered the killing of Gerard Moran is believed to have murdered Byrne. Tomo Byrne was said by local people to have beaten the IRA gangster in a pub fight several months earlier.

Brendan 'Speedy' Fagan, 24, was a drug dealer in Newry who knew he was under threat from the IRA when he was shot dead in a local pub on May 9, 1999. As two gunmen approached him he shouted: "It's the Provies." Fagan bought drugs from Dublin dealers, including members of John Gilligan's gang.

Paul 'Bull' Downey, 37, was a close associate of 'Speedy' Fagan's, whose body was found on south Armagh roadside June 13, 1999.

Charles Bennett, 22, had joined the IRA after the ceasefire and was accused of being a police informant. He was abducted, tortured and then taken to waste ground in west Belfast and shot through the head on July 25, 1999.

Eamon Collins, a 45-year-old ex-prisoner, was beaten and stabbed on January 27, 1999, because he wrote a brutally honest book, Killing Rage, about his role as part of the murderous IRA's south Armagh brigade.

Brendan 'Bap' Campbell, 30, was another small-time Belfast drug dealer, who was shot dead on February 9, 1998, as he left a Lisburn Road restaurant with his girlfriend.

Bobby Dougan, 34, was a prominent south Belfast loyalist who was shot dead by the IRA on February 10, 1998. Sinn Fein was suspended from the Stormont parliament for two weeks after ballistics tests showed a gun used in both murders was an IRA weapon.

Kevin Conway, 30, was found hooded and shot through the head on February 17, 1998, in farmland at Aghalee on the western outskirts of Belfast. Local people said the IRA carried out the killing as a result of a personal dispute with an IRA member.

Gerard Moran, 35, from Rory O'Connor House, Hardwicke Street, in north central Dublin, was shot dead while delivering takeaway food in Drumcondra on November 21, 1998. Moran's death was ordered because he had taunted IRA figures in the north inner city.

Andy Kearney, 33, was involved in a fist fight with a notorious north Belfast IRA man. The IRA man sent an armed gang to Kearney's seventh-floor flat in the New Lodge area on July 20, 1997. They overpowered Kennedy tied his hands behind his back, dragged him out on to the landing and shot him three times in the legs. They then tore out the telephone and disabled the lift so Kearney's girlfriend had to run down 16 flights of stairs to raise help. He bled to death.

During the period of the first IRA ceasefire from June 1994 to February 1996, it carried out other killings.

Michael Mooney, 34, was shot dead as he sat drinking with friends in a Belfast city centre bar on April 28, 1995. Again he was a drug dealer who refused to pay the IRA for protection.

Anthony Kane, 29, was shot dead by a lone gunman as he sat in a car with his wife outside a west Belfast church where his aunt's funeral was taking place on September 5, 1995. The reason was again refusing to pay protection.

Paul 'Saul' Devine, 35, was shot six times in west Belfast on December 12, 1995. He was a known criminal who had previously carried out robberies and other crimes, passing part of the proceeds to the IRA, but had apparently stopped paying.

Francis Collins, 40, was a former IRA member who was shot dead on the night of December 18, 1995, at the chip shop he ran in Belfast's New Lodge area. It is believed he had been in a dispute with a local IRA boss. It was falsely claimed in justification that he was a drug dealer.

Christopher 'Sid' Johnston, 38, was shot dead at his home in south Belfast on December 19, 1995. At the time he was on bail for possession of £250,000 worth of cannabis. Again, non-payment was the reason.

Martin McCrory, 30, was sitting in his flat on December 27, 1995, when two men burst in and shot him at point-blank range with a shotgun. His inquest heard he was a recreational drug user, but not a supplier. It is believed he had had an argument with local IRA figures.

Eric Shorthall, 23, was a drug addict and petty thief from Ballyfermot who may have inadvertently robbed a man closely associated with the IRA. He was shot while out walking on Crumlin Road on November 25, 1995.

Ian Lyons, 31, was shot dead by two gunmen who approached his car as it was parked outside his girlfriend's house in Lurgan, Co Armagh, on January 2, 1996. A notorious local IRA man was responsible. It is believed the IRA man had demanded money from Lyons, who had refused.

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