A ROGUE RUC officer in Co Derry helped UDA killer Torrens Knight move one of the deadly guns he used in the 1993 Greysteel ‘Trick or Treat’ massacre.
The policeman, stationed at Coleraine RUC Barracks, recovered the automatic rifle, also used to also murder four Catholic workmen, from a spot being searched by his colleagues weeks before the Rising Sun atrocity.
The loyalist sympathising constable – who was not believed to be working on Special Branch orders – was able to carry out the dirty move after fishermen discovered the bag of UDA weapons on the banks of a Co Derry river.
Stunned by the terror find at Hunter’s Mill, Aghadowey, the anglers left the area and reported what they found to a local politician.
SDLP MLA John Dallat contacted police who carried out an almost instant search around the Agivey River.
However RUC search teams failed to locate the weapons because they scaled the wrong section of the bank.
The blunder allowed the corrupt constable to go the area himself, recover the two high powered firearms and hand them straight back into the hands of the psychotic UDA/UFF gang.
Just weeks later on October 30 Knight, along with UFF killers Jeffrey Deeney and Stephen Irwin burst into the Rising Sun bar and murdered eight men and women. As the killers sprayed the bar with bullets, Irwin shouted ‘trick or treat’.
Speaking to the Sunday World SDLP MLA John Dallat who was told of the disturbing claim by a member of the security forces, said he believes the atrocity could have been prevented.
“What I was told by a former serving member of the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) was this man was a rogue RUC officer stationed in Coleraine at the time.
“This RIR man had previously served in Coleraine himself and he was disillusioned with the time he spent there, he was at a stage where he felt he wasn’t able to serve the purpose he joined it for.
“It was a number of issues he came to me with, separate to this information about this officer.
“Quite clearly if those guns had been recovered at that time it may have prevented Greysteel.
“One was high calibre and it was that gun that caused most of the damage.
“The find could have also led to the arrest of those who had control of the guns.
“In other words the gang might have been rounded up far earlier before multiple people were murdered.”
The revelation will add to a long list of unanswered questions as relatives and survivors prepare gather for the 24th anniversary of the atrocity this week.
That includes questions surrounding just how close security force personnell were to the killers at the time, including Torrens Knight, who is long suspected of being a paid police informant at the time, and after his release from jail.
Knight – now in his late 40s – was sentenced to 12 life sentences for the Rising Sun bar murders, and that of four Catholic workmen in Castlerock in March of the same year. Three of his UFF accomplices were also handed a number of life sentences for their part in Greysteel.
All were all released in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
In 2007 the Police Ombudsman said detectives did not have information which could have prevented the 1993 murders of eight people in Greysteel.SDLP assemblyman John Dallat had made a complaint, saying crucial information he gave to detectives was not acted on.
Nuala O’Loan also found there was no evidence killer Torrens Knight was protected from the rigours of the law.
However Mr Dallat says that he believes the full truth of the attack at the Rising Sun bar is still to be uncovered.
“There are tens of thousands of military files sitting in a warehouse somewhere in England that will lay bare the answers to the many unanswered questions surrounding Greysteel, Castlerock and many other atrocities.
“I also believe that Torrens Knight, who masquerades around as a man who has found God, has much, more to tell.
“The campaign currently is to leave the past behind and move on, but not everyone can do that. The relatives of those murdered in Greysteel still suffer to this day.”
Mr Dallat has also raised concerns that the remnants of UDA faction behind the killings is still active.
“The structure of the UDA 24 years on is still intact, for me that creates anxiety that should politics not be restored we still have a foundation of murder and mayhem in this area.
“We do not want another generation to plunge themselves into what Knight and his gang were involved in.”
News broke shortly after 7am today that Martin McGuinness, former IRA leader turned peacemaker, had passed away.
The 66-year-old Irish republican died after a short illness in Derry’s Altnagelvin hospital surrounded by his family. He had a rare genetic disease caused by deposits of abnormal protein – amyloid – in tissues and organs.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Martin McGuinness in 2013, weeks after he announced his decision to step down from his role as MP for Mid-Ulster.
At the time I was working for a local newspaper with a circulation of around seven – maybe even eight – thousand. It really served him very little to speak with me, however he made the time because he said he owed a lot to the people of South Derry and East Tyrone who he emphasised made it possible for him to become Deputy First Minister.
He invited me up to his office in Stormont and even though I had a strict 20 minute time slot, he continually pushed it back and made sure all my questions were answered.
He talked at length about his career, the peace process, Ian Paisley and the Queen, and at that time his hope of maintaining the powersharing government with Peter Robinson.
Unsurprisingly he said being central to the peace process negotiations was the highlight of his political life. And he acknowledged the huge significance his role played in making peace possible in the province.
“I was able to engage and work on vital negotiations that I believe have changed for the better the history of the north of Ireland and the island of Ireland forever and for good.”
Here is the interview in full (published in the Mid Ulster Mail on February 5, 2013).
By Patricia Devlin
IT is unlikely there will ever be another MP who will enjoy a political career as colourful as that of Martin McGuinness’.
Elected in Mid-Ulster three years after the IRA ceasefire, and a year before the Good Friday Agreement, he has been at the helm of the Northern Ireland peace process for over 15 years.
He has negotiated with British Prime Ministers, gone into government with his most bitter enemy, and shook the hand of the Royal Monarch once considered a prime target for the paramilitary organisation he was Chief of Staff for.
On January 2nd this year, he signed off a letter to Chancellor George Osborne that signalled the end of an era for Mid-Ulster, and his career as MP.
“One of the most interesting elections I have ever fought was the very first election that I stood in, in Mid-Ulster. I have never forgotten it, and I never will,” he told the Mail.
“I remember travelling around every town land and trying to get to every single door, up very long lanes and canvassing to very late at night.
“Quite a percentage thought that the seat wasn’t winnable because it had been tried before, and because there had been narrow losses in the past, in other occasions there were very substantial losses because of the divided vote.
“And I had a real engagement with the people of the constituency, I told them, that I believe there was a change in political situation, that the IRA ceasefire in 1994 had changed the ball game completely, that I also believed there would be a change of government in London, that there would be a new government led by Tony Blair and Mo Mowlam.
“That in my view because we had done work with the Labour party that would represent a real opportunity to get a peace agreement and to the forefront of my mind was to be very, very conscious that all of the people of Mid-Ulster, no matter what their political persuasion or religious beliefs, had suffered from the conflict.
“And I was making a pledge to them that I was determined to bring that conflict to an end and so the people came out in huge numbers and I, against all the odds, won the seat by 1800 votes,” he said.
To Mid-Ulster and beyond
Taking the seat from the DUP’s Willie McCrea was seen as a huge victory for nationalists and republicans in the constituency, so much so that Mr McGuinness’’ election as seen as a catalyst for Sinn Fein sowing it’s roots across the province.
“It was clear to me from speaking to the people of Mid-Ulster that they were very tuned in.
“They were very political and they were very willing to seize the opportunity to make their contribution to the peace process, albeit it being a peace process in it’s very early stages.
“And I think that had a very dramatic impact on the peace process, it certainly had a dramatic impact on constituencies like West Tyrone where Pat Dorrity later emerged as MP, Fermanagh and South Tyrone where Michelle Gildernew emerged as the MP and Newry and Armagh where Conor Murphy emerged as the MP.
“I give credit to the people of Mid-Ulster for having accomplished that and by voting for me, then made it possible for people in other constituencies to recognise that voting for Sinn Fein could bring change, not just in terms of recognising the constituency but in terms of bringing peace which I believed at that time was a passionate objective of mine, but I also believed that it was passionate desire of the people of Mid-Ulster.”
The Deputy First Minister says he is in no doubt at what the highlight of his time in Mid-Ulster has been.
“It has to be the success of the peace process,” he said.
“The peace process is considered as the most successful peace process in the world today and because I was elected by the people of Mid-Ulster as the MP, in 1997, within a month of that I led a Sinn Fein delegation to South Africa with other parties, Peter Robinson led the DUP delegation, David Trimble led the Ulster Unionists and Mark Durkan led the SDLP, where we met with Nelson Mandela and learned many important lessons about peace negotiations.
“I was then obviously entrusted by the party to be the chief negotiator in the Good Friday negotiations and obviously it was because the people of Mid-Ulster put me in such a prominent political position that I was able to engage and work on vital negotiations that I believe have changed for the better the history of the north of Ireland and the island of Ireland forever and for good.”
The challenges? The building of those personal, political relationships that have dominated the headlines since the powersharing agreement in 2007.
“Of course the first meeting between Ian Paisley was historically of huge importance, whenever it was certain that he and I were going to be First and Deputy First Minister.
“He said a very significant thing, which gave me an insight into Ian Paisley, he said ‘you know Martin, we can rule ourselves, we don’t need these people coming over from England, telling us what to do,’ and I immediately said to myself, ‘well that’s common ground that you and I can stand on’.
“So for a year I had a very good working relationship with Ian Paisley, albeit he was coming to the end of his time as leader of the DUP and First Minister, and of course people then described us as the ‘Chuckle Brothers’, christened that by a member of the Ulster Unionist party who thought it would demean us, in fact people liked it.”
One of the most defining moments of those personal relationships happened in June 2012, just weeks after Martin McGuinness outlined his intention to step down from his MP role.
He says even at the height of his powersharing role with Ian Paisley, shaking the hand of Queen Elizabeth never entered his mind.
“Back in those days I never contemplated even taking a decision on shaking Queen Elizabeth’s hand, but when I did that, I took a very conscious decision to do it as an act of friendship to those who had an allegiance to her In the north of Ireland.
“I think that recognising that things are constantly changing and showing unionists what a United Ireland, or a reunified Ireland would look like I think it is important that we continue to make gestures that make people feel comfortable that moving forward in a shared way, particularly trying to develop an all island economy, is making economic sense for us both north and south.”
Although standing down from Mid-Ulster as an MP, the Deputy First Minister says he will not be standing down from the constituency.
“Some people had that false impression,” he says. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
“I will be as proud and honoured to continue on as a humble MLA for Mid-Ulster and as Deputy First Minister because I am very committed to the constituency and very committed to the people of South Derry and East Tyrone who have supported me through thick and thin over the course of the last 15 years.
“I have a great affinity with the people of South Derry and East Tyrone and I am very conscious that I would not be Deputy First Minister or even as many people describe it, joint First Minister, on the basis of equality with Peter Robinson, had it not been for the support I received from Mid-Ulster.”
Last year I carried out an investigation into how anti-abortion protesters were confronting women using Belfast’s Marie Stopes Centre. The article received a lot of feedback, with most shocked at the tactics used by some’pro-life’ campaigners. Following this month’s High Court case involving one activist challenging a harassment notice served on her by the PSNI, I thought I’d republish the piece, which appeared in Sunday Life, again.
A link to the camera footage is available at the bottom of the article.
Followed down the street and told my unborn baby had been ‘christened’ James, an anti-abortion protester pulls out a tiny plastic foetus doll from her pocket and tells me: “This is what your baby looks like”.
I was told I would become suicidal, that I would regret the decision for the rest of my life.
I was also told that if I’d been raped, I’d get over it – but I’d never get over terminating my pregnancy.
I’m not pregnant, but the vast majority of women who use Marie Stopes Centre in Belfast are.
They include women who have serious mental health issues,women who have fallen pregnant through rape or incest. And then there are the women who have a very much-wanted pregnancy, but who are faced with the devastating diagnosis of severe foetal abnormality.
I went undercover to experience what they do every time they visit the Great Victoria Street clinic.
And each time I went there I was chased down the street, had graphic images of dead foetuses pushed into my hands and was offered ‘help’ from pro-life group Precious Life.
My last visit laid bare some of the tactics used by anti-abortion activists.
I’d been clocked by the protesters, who have a permanent presence outside, entering the building just after 2pm. Two women stood outside with ‘abortion is murder’ posters, while another stood at the door with a clipboard.
When I left 40 minutes later, there were two women waiting at the door.
“You are going to be a fantastic mother, please don’t be afraid, we can help you with anything you need,” one said, as she walked after me.
“No matter how difficult it is you’ll never be able to undo this, this is going to be the happiest moment of your life.”
After declining her help, the protester, said: “Were you raped? We can help you, we can give you counselling, don’t be worrying.
“Whoever done that to you is going to be doing it to you all over again, because you are not going to get over the abortion, you will be able to get over the rape.
“And the beautiful love of your baby will help you do that, please take our information, please let us help you.”
I declined, once again, but it didn’t put this activist off. In fact, it made her worse.
“We’ve called your baby James, we’ve called him James,” she said.
“You can’t bring your baby back darling, you will go through a much harder time than this.
“All this is us reaching out to you, we want to help you.
“I love you, I know your pain. We’ve been through this before.”
Directing me to Precious Life’s new offices – a stone’s throw from the Marie Stopes Centre – I was told I could be taken there now, and given ‘help’.
“Those people up there (Marie Stopes) don’t care about you, all they want is your money. You can never bring your baby back.
“I had a girl in my house and she was so distraught that we were frightened for her taking her own life, and she said she wanted to take her own life, because she wanted her baby back, and we couldn’t do that for her.
“We offered her help and support after, but she said you can’t help me, all I want is my baby back.
“I have a counsellor that is down here and can speak to you now, and she can offer you every support, that you need mentally.”
By this stage, I’d been trying to shake-off this protester for five minutes. I’d attempted to cross the road using the traffic lights, I’d walked up and down the same stretch of footpath twice.
As this was all happening two PSNI officers were walking up and down the street.
The PSNI now keep a regular watch on the centre, following the high-profile conviction of Precious Life organiser Bernadette Smyth for harassment (later overturned on appeal) against the centre’s director.
The officers watched this woman follow me from the doors of the centre, as I tried to cross the street to get away, and as I continually declined her ‘help’. They did not intervene, but they did ask our photographer why he was taking pictures in the area.
Then, in a parting shot, the protester reached into her pocket and pulled out a tiny plastic foetus doll.
“This is what your baby looks like,” she said. “Arms and legs and fingers and toes, its heart is beating – from 21 days, and you are actually going to be killing a human being, a baby. Your baby.”
I finally escaped her attentions, safe in the knowledge that I would not have to run the gauntlet again.
But many women – some desperate for help – don’t believe they have any choice.