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'U-turn' for PM on Libyan pay-out
The murky world of oil, semtex and the Colonel
Victims' Forum IRA man 'an obscenity'
Blood Money
The Libyan Connection
Chronology of Gun-Running
Ten reasons why Martin McGuinness is a tout
See also

Gadaffi son resists IRA pay-out
BBC News

Victim of an IRA bomb in Belfast - Libya supplied three tons of semtex and hundred of weaponsThe son of Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi has said his country will resist demands from the families of IRA victims for compensation.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said any claims for compensation based on Libya's supply of explosives to the IRA would be a matter for "the courts".

He told Sky News: "They have their lawyers, we have our lawyers."

On Sunday, the relatives welcomed the Gordon Brown's decision that the UK would support bids for compensation.

Mr Gaddafi's comments came hours after Mr Brown announced that he was setting up a dedicated Foreign Office team to assist the IRA families' victims.

Speaking about the looming British attempts to claim compensation, the Libyan leader's son said: "Anyone can knock on our door. You go to the court."

And when asked if his answer to the compensation demand would be "no" in the first instance, he replied: "Of course."

The murky world of oil, semtex and the Colonel
Sunday Times 06-09-09

Victim in Belfast who's leg has been blown off by an IRA bombHow many concessions did Britain need to make to Libya to bring Colonel Gaddafi back into the international fold and gain access to its oil wealth? A lot, it seems. The government has been wriggling for weeks about links between Britain’s commercial interests in Libya and the repatriation of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber.

Now we are getting closer to an accurate version of events. Mr Megrahi was released, on compassionate grounds by the Scottish Nationalist government in Edinburgh without, it insists, the direct involvement of Westminster. That was not for want of trying. Repeatedly, from December 2007, the government in London told the Scottish authorities that he could be released under the prisoner transfer agreement with Libya. In the end he was not released under that deal — although this particular detail will be lost on most observers of this sorry saga.

Jack Straw, the justice secretary, confirmed yesterday what this newspaper revealed a week ago: that oil was at the heart of the decision to include Mr Megrahi in the prisoner deal. “We wanted to bring it [Libya] back into the fold,” he said. “And yes, that included trade because trade is an essential part of it.”

Today we report on another area of Britain’s dealings with Libya in which the interests of victims have been shunned to maintain good trade relations with the country. Libya supplied arms to the IRA and from the mid-1980s was its source of Semtex, the deadly explosive. The families of 2,500 victims of bombs made from that Semtex want compensation.

In dealings with the British government, right up to Gordon Brown, lawyers acting for these victims have found themselves coming up against the by now familiar argument: relations between Britain and Libya were too important to put at risk.

“The UK government does not consider it appropriate to enter into a bilateral discussion with Libya on this matter,” the prime minister wrote to lawyers last November, while insisting trade was only one of several factors. “Bilateral co-operation is now wide-ranging on many levels, particularly in the fight against terrorism,” he said. “I believe it is in all our interests for this co-operation to continue.” Bill Rammell, his ministerial colleague, wrote to a campaigner for IRA victims emphasising Libya’s contribution to Britain’s “secure energy future”.

Trade, energy security and Libya’s renouncement of terrorism were and are important but aspects of both the Lockerbie and IRA stories are too murky for comfort. Britain has been bending over backwards to placate Colonel Gadaffi. And it has bent too far.


'U-turn' for PM on Libyan pay-out
BBC News

Caught up in an IRA bomb blast a distraught victim in Belfast is carried from the sceneGordon Brown has confirmed the UK will support compensation claims being made against Libya by IRA victims' families.

The government has been criticised for its closer ties with Libya by victims of the IRA, which was supplied with explosives by Tripoli.

Mr Brown insisted his government's priority had been to ensure Libya renounced terror and nuclear weapons.

Opposition MPs said the prime minister's "U-turn" undermined his authority and made Britain look weak.

Speaking in Berlin, where he was meeting the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, Mr Brown said a "dedicated" team of officials would now help seek compensation for the families.

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague and DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson both described the move as a U-turn.

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said the government had made the move after Mr Brown said it would "not be appropriate" to have "bilateral discussions with Libya on this matter" last year.

A lawyer for the victims, Jason McCue, said he was "overjoyed" by Mr Brown's support, which he suggested could enable a compensation claim "to be cleared up within a matter of weeks".

'Desperately care'
Mr Brown said he thought the IRA victims themselves, not the government, stood the best chance of persuading Libya to compensate them.

He said: "I desperately care about the impact of all IRA atrocities on the victims, their families and communities.

"The Libyans have refused to accept a treaty or normal intergovernmental agreement on this issue.

"As a result, our judgement has been that the course more likely to bring results is to support the families and their lawyers in their legal representations to the Libyan authorities.

"We will appoint dedicated officers in the Foreign Office and our Embassy in Tripoli who will accompany the campaign group to meetings with the Libyan government to negotiate compensation, the first of which will be in the next few weeks."

Critics say the government has shied away from confronting the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, because of deals struck with Tripoli by British oil companies.

'Changed' relationship
But the prime minister insisted "successive governments" had sought compensation for IRA victims over last two decades.

He said: "Our priority has been to ensure that Libya supports the fight against terrorism and gives up its nuclear weapons.

"As Libya has renounced nuclear weapons and terrorism, our relationship has changed.

"It is these concerns - not oil or commercial interests - that have long been the dominant feature of our relationship."

Mr McCue said it was "a great day for victims" because Gordon Brown had made a "principled decision" that "listened to ordinary folk rather than bureaucrats".

"I am confident that his moral and logistical backing for the British victims of Libyan Semtex will ensure that they now receive justice and compensation, as did the US victims when they received the support of their president," he said.

Mr McCue added that "with our PM's full support, I cannot see why this matter cannot be concluded swiftly in a matter of weeks and before parliament reconvenes."

Northern Ireland MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who has been working with the victims' families and is due to visit Tripoli on their behalf, said: "We have forced a U-turn, it's not every day you can say that.

"We will work with his government to put the case to the Libyans.

"It is essential now that the government delivers what the Prime Minister has promised."

The government denied claims it refused to press for compensation because of fears of jeopardising oil deals with Libya.

On Sunday Downing Street released a letter written by the prime minister to IRA victims' lawyer Jason McCue last October in which Mr Brown wrote that the government did not "consider it appropriate to enter into a bilateral discussion with Libya on this matter".

He added that Libya would be "strongly opposed to reopening the issue".

Out-of-court deals have been agreed by Libya with three American victims of IRA atrocities.

But more than 100 UK IRA victims, who had been pursuing similar claims through the US courts, had been excluded from those deals.

Their campaign was boosted by the Scottish government's decision to free Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

Conservative foreign affairs spokesman William Hague said Mr Brown's change of mind was a "stunning admission" that the government had failed to support the families of the victims of IRA terrorism.

He said: "The British government should have provided active support as a matter of course, not as a result of public pressure.

"But Gordon Brown and the government he leads have long lost their moral compass."

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey told the BBC: "We have got a prime minister who no longer appears to be in control. The government looks pretty weak."

Victims' Forum IRA man 'an obscenity'
Belfast Newsletter 05 September 2009

Appointing a convicted IRA murderer to the Victims' Forum makes a mockery of innocent victims' suffering, the Ulster Unionists and Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader Jim Allister said last night.

Former IRA prisoner Michael Culbert, who was sentenced to 16 years in jail for killing a police officer, was appointed to the Victims' Forum. His relatives had been burned out of Belfast's Bombay Street in the early days of the Troubles.

TUV leader Mr Allister said: "No forum for victims should have a place for one whose actions created victims.

"The appointment of a man with Culbert's pedigree is an obscenity which will be grossly offensive to many innocent victims throughout Northern Ireland. It is clearly yet an other attempt to sanitise the men of violence."

Ulster Unionist victims' spokesman Derek Hussey also attacked the decision to appoint the former IRA prisoner to the forum which will advise on the needs of those who suffered during decades of violence.

"The appointment of Michael Culbert — a former IRA prisoner who was sentenced to 16 years for the murder of a police officer — is an insult to innocent victims from right across our community," he said.

"People of all backgrounds suffered at the hands of terrorist organisations. To place on the forum someone who has committed murder on the behalf of one of those organisations is a calculated insult to those murdered, injured and bereaved by republican and loyalist terrorists."

Forum member Willie Frazer, whose father was shot dead by the IRA in 1975, said that it was "his own personal view that he (Michael Culbert] should not be there".

"I have found from other victims' panels that republicans have a guilt complex and want people like myself to accept them as innocent victims.

"This is where the whole thing could become unstuck."

Nigel Lutton, whose father, a former RUC reservist, was shot dead by the IRA in 1979, said: "Anyone who lifted their hand against those who upheld law and order is a terrorist. I would have great difficulty in recognising anyone in that position as a victim."

But Victims' Commis-sioner Brendan McAllister defended Mr Culbert's appointment, arguing that the forum would allow for debate about how best to meet victims' needs.

Almost 30 victims of the Troubles are to take places on the forum to advise on the needs of those who suffered during decades of violence.

Their advice will be offered to the Executive and the Victims' Commis-sion.

Yesterday, members of the new forum revealed their deep scepticism about the capabilities of the new forum with member Raymond McCord accusing organisers of "sanitising" the death of his son after they refused to let him describe it as "murder" in his own pen biography


Blood Money
The Sun 29 Jan 2009

Fury erupted yesterday over plans to pay £12,000 to the families of EVERYONE killed in Northern Ireland's Troubles.

The proposal, which would see compensation going to the loved ones of IRA and Loyalist murderers, was unveiled in a government-commissioned report.

The document was intended as a blueprint for healing divisions left by 30 years of violence.

But it was published amid angry scenes in Belfast, with bitter relatives of IRA victims confronting Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

Among them was Michelle Williamson, 41, whose parents were killed by a bomb in 1993.

She vowed to refuse the Government's "blood money".

And in London, Prime Minister Gordon Brown signalled that he would reject the report's controversial recommendation.

He told MPs: "I will never forget the thousands of innocent victims in Northern Ireland."

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Patterson said: "Those people who carried out vicious acts of violence against innocent civilians and members of the legally established security forces cannot be put on the same level as their victims."

The report was produced by former Anglican Archbishop Lord Robin Eames and ex-Catholic priest Denis Bradley.

It spelled out a £300million series of measures to help Northern Ireland deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

At its heart was the plan to make "recognition" payments to the families of more than 3,600 people killed, including 600 terrorists.

It also recommended a £100 million Reconciliation Forum to tackle sectarianism but ruled out more costly one-off probes, like the Bloody Sunday inquiry.


The Libyan Connection

State sponsorship of terrorism has become one of the most worrying trends in international terrorism. The willingness of pariah states and terrorist organisations, which have seized power in several countries, to support other groups, has changed the complexion of world politics. War has fundamentally changed as these states have now the facility to wage clandestine, proxy wars against Western democracies through chosen agents in the west.

Under the guise of anti-colonial conflict self styled 'freedom-fighters' have acted as the agents of Communist and more recently Middle-Eastern Islamic fundamentalist powers. Without having to openly declare war on the West, and suffer the military consequences countries like Libya, Syria, Iran, Cuba and before them the communist USSR have been able to wage war by proxy through an international network of terrorist organisations. The benefits of this secret war for such states are obvious, including the ability to strike at the heart of the West through in situ groups like the Provisional IRA or ETA. The anonymity of these strikes meant that blame could not be easily apportioned. The furtherment of their often Marxist Revolutionary ideology along with the instability caused to Western Democracies fits well with their long term strategy.

The most blatant example of the state sponsorship of a terrorist group aimed at destroying a Western democracy is the Libyan support of the IRA. The latter a terrorist group whose express aim is to overturn the democratic wish of the people of Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. Their terrorist campaign has spanned over three decades, and has included human rights abuses of the people of Northern Ireland which constitute genocide, and a sustained attack on the democratic institutions of the United Kingdom as a whole. The reason for Libya's secret war against Britain was in revenge for its support of US action against Libya, including the bombing of Tripoli. The campaign against these twin towers of Western democracy also included the Lockerbie bombing.

Libya's Proxy War With the West
Gadaffi's brother-in-law, Abdullah al-Senussi,This photograph is one of perhaps only two that exist in the West of the man suspected of being directly behind the slaughter of 270 people on Pan Am flight 103. It shows a smiling Colonel Gadaffi and next to him circled is Gadaffi's brother-in-law, Abdullah al-Senussi, the man who British intelligence services believe is the mastermind behind terrorist acts that have killed hundreds of people. Gadaffi may have sanctioned the Lockerbie bomb, intelligence sources believe that Senussi is the man who put the plan into action. A former head of the Jamahariya Security Organisation, which runs Libyan agents, he is implicated in 440 deaths in two air disasters and also in other terrorist acts. Less than nine months after Pan Am 103 was destroyed, a French flight to Paris from Brazzaville, in central Africa, was blown out of the sky over Niger. All 170 passengers and crew on the French UTA plane died. In March 1999 a special court in Paris found six Libyans guilty of the UTA bombing. The judges gave life sentences to all six in absentia, including Senussi.

Finally under Scottish law two Libyans were accused, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Fhimah. While Fhimah was declared innocent Megrahi was found guilty of the worst peace-time atrocity committed in Britain. The judges said they had no doubt that the Libyan security service agent had planted the bomb, but declined to rule why he had done it. The British secret intelligence service, however, believes it knows the answer: Megrahi was acting on orders from Senussi and Gadaffi, who was bent on revenge against the West.

Sadly these infamous atrocities were not the only terrorist acts sponsored by Libya, in the United Kingdom itself , the effects of the Libyan backed terrorism were also felt. Libya has continuously supplied the IRA with weapons and money for nearly a quarter of a century. It has provided training for many IRA terrorists in the techniques of terror, and has financed the organisation to the tune of ---million. In 1973, the ship Claudia was intercepted by Irish police in Waterford Bay with five tonnes of arms on board. British security officials believe that Libya's leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, flush with billions of dollars of oil boom money, also gave several millions of dollars dollars in cash to the IRA. In 1987, French police intercepted another ship, the Eksund, with a massive 150 tonnes of weapons on board including SAM missiles, 1,000 mortar bombs and rocket-propelled grenades. British intelligence believes three other shipments actually reached Ireland in the mid 1980s, when Gaddafi renewed his support of the IRA to take revenge for Britain's part in the bombing of Tripoli in 1986. There were also reports of IRA volunteers being trained in the North African country, most notably in Toby Harnden's study of the South Armagh IRA where he states that Slab Murphy was trained to deadly effect by the Libyans.

Some of this information has come from the Libyans themselves, as they tried to cultivate a more sedate image to fight U.N. sanctions imposed because of possible Libyan involvement in the Lockerbie bombing. Libyan intelligence officials gave some details to their British counterparts at a meeting in June 1992 and Gaddafi has condemned IRA actions in recent years. Such duplicity is nothing new for the Libyan leader and intelligence sources indicate that the present distance from the Sinn Fein/IRA leadership is purely a tactical front intended to suite both parties political interests.

In July 1992, the then chief police officer in Northern Ireland, Sir Hugh Annesley, estimated Libyan shipments to the IRA before 1987 to include at least: six tonnes of Semtex, 1,500 AK assault rifles, 3 Russian DShK 12.7mm heavy machine guns, Taurus automatic pistols from Brazil, 1.5 million rounds of ammunition, 20 SAM missiles, 50 RPG7 rocket launchers and 10 flamethrowers. The deadly consignments were delivered through Irish waters, landed on the coast of the Republic of Ireland and are stored to this day in bunkers within the Irish Republic, the location of several of these are known to the Irish authorities.

Chronology of Gun-Running

Captured IRA weapons - many came from Libya1972: The weapons shipments from Libya began in 1972 with two cargoes containing an estimated 500 rifles, 500 pistols, 40,000 rounds of ammunition, an unknown amount of gelignite and TNT and assorted grenades, anti-tank mines, fuses and other equipment.

1973: A third shipment on board the 300-ton MV Claudia was intercepted off Helvick Head, Co Waterford, in March. On board the Naval Service found 250 rifles, 246 bayonets, 243 pistols, 850 magazines, 100 anti-tank mines, 500 grenades, gelignite, TNT, primers, electric fuses and 20,000 rounds of ammunition.

1977-78: A further seven tons of weapons, including an unknown number of RPG7 rocket-launchers, rifles, explosives, handguns and ammunition, reached the IRA from Libya. The route is unknown, but experts speculate it involved Islamic groups like the PLO.

1984: The Fenit, Co Kerry-based trawler, the Marita Ann, was intercepted by the Naval Service near the Skelligs, off the Kerry coast. There were seven tons of arms on board, including a .5 Browning machinegun, 300 rifles and 50,000 rounds of ammunition. These weapons had come from an organised crime gang in Boston.

1985: In August the 65ft fishing boat, the Casamara, delivered the first of three shipments of weapons from Libya, vessel looking for drug-traffickers in the Bay of Biscay. The largest shipment ever intercepted, it included 1,000 AK47 rifles, 10 DMZK .5 anti-aircraft machineguns, one million rounds of ammunition and one million mortar shells. again a present from Col Gadaffi. This first 10-ton shipment included 50 boxes containing rifles, pistols and rocket-launchers. In October the Casamara, skippered by the former Bray Travel director, Adrian Hopkins, delivered another 10 to 14 tons of weapons, including several 12.70 light machineguns.

1986: In April between 14 and 20 tons of weapons, including Semtex and at least two surface-to-air missiles, arrived. A larger vessel, the Villa, was used to deliver between 80 and 90 tons of weapons, including at least seven RPG rocket launchers, 10 SAM missiles and a large quantity of Semtex. A shipment of 17 rifles, two handguns, grenades, 70,000 rounds of ammunition and four drums of the chemical nitrobenzene (used for manufacturing explosives) was discovered in Amsterdam.

1987: In October some 150 tons of weaponry on board the Eksund was intercepted by a French naval fast-patrol, in the Bay of Biscay. The Eksund contained 150 tons of weapons including 1,000 AK47 rifles, 10 DMZK .5 antiaircraft machine guns, one million rounds of ammunition and one million mortar shells The weapons arrived in four shipments on two ships skippered by the former Bray Travel owner, Adrian Hopkins.

Senior security sources do not accept the suggestion inherent in the catch phrase "trust in rust" that the IRA's weapons will fall into disrepair in the near future.

Experience has shown that the IRA carefully prepares its weapons for storage, oiling all moving parts. Since the 1980s the organisation has also built damp proofed bunkers to store weapons securely. One senior source said a properly oiled AK47 assault rifle, of which the IRA may have more than 1,000, would be usable 100 years from now. Also, the estimated three tons of the Czech-manufactured Semtex-H explosive has a "shelf life" of 35 years and would be usable long after that. The Semtex is the most destructive part of the IRA arsenal. There has been no indication from the IRA that it intends disposing of any of its store of the plastic explosive.

Financing International Terror
The support also took the form of £6.75 Million in cash, which fuelled a terrorist war 2,000 miles away and turned the IRA into one of the world's wealthiest criminal organisations. The money was used to kill and injure thousands of innocent civilians and members of the security forces. Much of the money has been sunk into investments where IRA financiers have quadrupled the value of Libyan cash received, according to intelligence sources. Not all the Libyan money was spent on the armed struggle. Much of it was invested in property, businesses and offshore accounts on the Channel Islands. These have grown over the past decade into a rich investment portfolio. The booming Irish economy, fuelled by rock-bottom interest rates, European Union subsidies and a spiralling high-technology sector, has created for the IRA a thriving corporate enterprise with a turnover to rival some of Ireland's biggest companies.

The terror finance scheme began when an IRA courier, known to the Libyans as "Cassidy", flew to Tripoli with an empty suitcase in 1983. A Libyan was waiting with an identical suitcase, packed with cash. The information was supplied to an MI5 handler by Khalifa Bazelya, the former head of the Libyan interests section in Britain and now Libya's ambassador in Cyprus. Under a deal brokered between the British and Libyan governments by the United Nations, Bazelya described in 1995 how the exchanges took place. "Contacts took place in airports by means of prearranged exchanges of identical briefcases in the airport cafe or transit lounge at Tripoli," he said. "The Libyan briefcases contained 'financial support'." The clandestine meetings were arranged by agents for Libya's external security organisation (ESO) enrolled as students in Ireland. "All contacts between the Libyan security service and IRA/Sinn Fein took place through the Ireland branch of the Libyan Students Union," Bazelya revealed.

The state of IRA finances are well known to the intelligence services and the government, who have taken steps to freeze Taliban assets in Britain. Similar steps have yet to be deployed against the Libyan money and the investments it has been channelled into. Property has yielded high dividends for the IRA. Pubs in Dublin, the IRA's investment of choice, are fetching record prices of more than £4m. The boom is expected to continue - according to one estimate, Dublin property prices will rise 60% in the next five years. A senior detective in Belfast said: "The IRA, and the loyalists for that matter, are now moving their money into legitimate business. They have it all over the world." The IRA sponsored sophisticated frauds, including a previously unreported "sting" on Barclays Bank which netted it thousands of pounds. The scam involved unemployed hoaxers posing as farmers needing money to expand their farms.

The terror group even gained a financial dividend from the release of its prisoners. Over its 30-year campaign, one of the main drains on the IRA's finances was supporting the families of inmates. This has fallen dramatically with the release of prisoners. Earlier this year the IRA was supporting 61 inmates compared with 317 before the Good Friday agreement was signed. By the end of July, all prisoners will have been released under the terms of the agreement. A second drain on IRA finances that has been plugged is its subsidy to Sinn Fein, which was running at about £500,000 a year in the late 1980s. Sinn Fein is now able to finance itself, thanks in part to fundraising activities abroad. It is currently the second richest political party in the republic, behind Fianna Fail. James Adams, an American-based security consultant and author of The Financing of Terror, said the IRA would not have been able to sustain its war without Gadaffi. "He was the single biggest contributor of arms and cash," Adams said.

Gadaffi, meanwhile, renounced terrorism in a statement to the UN security council last year, in a move aimed at getting UN sanctions lifted. However his opinion on international terrorism and in particular the IRA has changed little. Hatred for the west compounded by the death of his daughter in the US bombing of Tripoli runs deep in Gadaffi and his family. Recently his daughter's anti-British sentiments were exposed after a security scare. Aisha Gadaffi described the IRA as freedom fighters in a diatribe delivered at Speaker's Corner in London. She provoked an angry reaction from listeners - unaware of her identity - and had to be hustled away by her bodyguards. She broke diplomatic protocol by delivering a speech in support of the IRA. Aisha is a law graduate of Al-Fatah. Her antipathy towards Britain was fuelled by the 1986 bombing of Tripoli by American jets launched from British bases in which her adopted sister, also called Hanna, was killed. Aisha, then a child, shook her fist in defiance in front of television cameras.

Gadaffi has also paid compensation to the family of WPC Yvonne Fletcher, who was killed outside the Libyan embassy by a gunman in 1984. In return, Britain agreed to lift sanctions, however they conveniently forgot about the thousands of other British citizens murdered by Gadaffi at Lockerbie and at the hands of Libya's mercenaries in Northern Ireland. The British government's willingness to appease IRA terrorists in Northern Ireland and to let their Libyan paymaster off the hook, stands in glaring comparison to the world's attitude to terrorism since 11th September 2001. As the world unites to fight terror there must be no distinctions made. The British government once declared it had no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland, they must also declare that they have no similar interests in terrorism. States like Libya which have sponsored terror, must be treated like the Taliban, however rather than ensuring that they are never able to support terror again again the sad fact is that Western countries are eager to renew links with them.

Leading the way in this recognition of the pariah state is a country used to establishing, funding, training arming and harbouring terrorists - the Republic of Ireland. Like Libya it was responsible for supporting the IRA, indeed the Irish Prime Minister, seen opposite meeting Gadaffi, has family connections with the IRA. In the early 1970s his father Con Ahern a notorious IRA man was arrested and questioned about the murder of Garda Fallon in Dublin. The Irish Republic stands equally indited with Libya in supporting international terrorism. Indeed at the start of the troubles members of the Dublin Government Charles Haughey, later prime Minister, and Neill Blaney were implicated in a plot to import weapons to the IRA. The Irish Government in their haste to renew trading contacts with Libya where they export Irish beef have forgotten the death and damage caused by previous Libyan imports. Bertie Ahern when asked by RTÉ if he had received a commitment from the Libyan leader that he would never supply arms again to the IRA, he said that they did not discuss that specifically.

While the British and Irish Governments have forgotten about these matter those who suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of these terrorists and their weapons will never forget. As many politicans seek to fudge or ignore completely the decommissioning issue it must be remembered that it is an indicator of not only the IRA's intentions but also their capabilities.



Ten facts about the "charmed existence" enjoyed by Martin McGuinness. There are several reasons for suspicion falling on Martin McGuinness for he survived when those around him have been shot or jailed. Derry IRA informants coughed up more secrets, leading to more arms finds, than any other part of the IRA.

1. The first and biggest find of arms imported from Libya in the mid 1980s - 100 AK47 and five medium machineguns were found at Five Fingers Strand in north Donegal, and the information came via an RUC informant in Derry.

2. The IRA's powerful M60 machinegun, imported from the United States in the early 1980s, was recovered by the RUC in the city in 1982. The weapon had been used to kill eight soldiers and policemen in other parts of the province and was intended to wreak havoc in Derry. Instead, it was never fired and recovered in a community hall in the Bogside.

3. The Derry IRA was harder hit by the 'supergrass' phenomenon that any other IRA 'brigade'. About 80 of its members were before the courts at one point in 1982-1983, though McGuinness, as the local 'officer commanding,' was never arrested. In the aftermath of the supergrass period the IRA in Derry went into very noticeable decline. It was responsible for killing nine members of the security forces in 1982, but by the following year it was responsible for only three murders a Protestant businessman, a soldier and a policeman.

4. Elsewhere in Northern Ireland, IRA units were responsible for 47 murders, mostly off-duty police and Ulster Defence Regiment members. This trend continued throughout the 1980s with the exception of the Patsy Gillespie human bomb in 1990, in which five soldiers died. In 1987 - the year of the Enniskillen Cenotaph bomb - a total of 45 people, security forces and civilians were murdered by the IRA, but there were no killings in Derry (though two IRA men blew themselves up while making bombs).

5. The following year, the only people to die at the hands of the IRA in Derry were three Catholics killed in a booby trap bomb while trying to help a neighbour. While the IRA units in Tyrone, Fermanagh, Armagh and Down were engaged in a vicious, bloody onslaught against security force members, Derry was inactive and dysfunctional.

6. There are strong suspicions among police on both sides of the border that the killing of the two soldiers, Gunner Miles Amos and LanceBombardier Stephen Cummins, was an event which was 'allowed' to happen to cover the tracks of a highly placed intelligence sources inside the Derry IRA. Wellplaced sources say there was a near breakdown inrelations between the Army and police in Derry after this event, with the Army blaming the police, who they knew to have wellplaced informants in the local IRA, for failing to stop the attack. While police insisted they knew nothing of the attack, the Army remained unconvinced. A short while later, the Army set up an under-cover operation to thwart an IRA bomb attack on the city centre. The route of the bomb-run was changed and the head bomber escaped under the noses of waiting SAS members.

7. In 1979 Brian Keenan, who was running a ruthless bombing campaign in Britain and Northern Ireland, was arrested after being flagged down by McGuinness on the roadway where they had a brief conversation. When he was in jail Keenan asked that McGuinness be investigated by the IRA, but he did not pursue the matter after he was released.

8. In November 1994 a police investigation, Operation Taurus, found three witnesses to implicate McGuinness in directing terrorism. It was halted with the appearance of a letter asking prosecutors to bear in mind that McGuinness would shortly be in talks with the government about the future of Northern Ireland. His political value, underlined by his hotline to a senior MI6 officer, may be sufficient to explain why McGuinness has often seemed a protected species.

9. No members of the security forces were killed in 1991 or 1992. Then a young Constable, Michael Ferguson, was shot dead outside the Richmond Centre in January 1993, and an RIR member, Christopher Wren, was killed in May the same year.

10. In the blizzard of violence that stemmed from the north Belfast IRA's bombing of Frizzell's fish shop on the Shankill Road, the IRA in Derry remained silent. There were no IRA killings in Derry in 1994. Ironically, in the run-up to the 1994 IRA ceasefire, journalists were briefed that one of the main impediments to Gerry Adams' 'peace' plans were 'hardliners' like Martin McGuinness then holding the title of IRA chief of staff. What is clear is that the Special Branch, Army or Intelligence Services had deeply infiltrated the IRA in Derry from around the early to mid 1980s. As the IRA moved towards ceasefire in the early 1990s, Derry seemed to lead the way in running down its operations.

All over Northern Ireland people are reassessing McGuinness's career in the wake of newspaper claims by Martin Ingram, a former military intelligence officer, that the man once regarded as an IRA hawk had been controlled by MI6 for at least two decades. A retired RUC special branch officer believes McGuinness was the MI5 agent code-named "Fisherman".

Republican veterans point to the "charmed existence" enjoyed by McGuinness. He has held every senior position in the Provisional IRA since its inception, but has never been shot or injured nor served a serious prison sentence in the UK.

During the internment swoops he managed to avoid detention and travelled freely back and forth from Londonderry to his granny's house in Donegal where he was nominally "on the run". Statements by another supergrass, Robert Quigley, implicated McGuinness in organising IRA activity, but he was never charged. While McGuinness remained beyond the law, his followers were jailed and killed. Now he has a holiday home in Donegal, he and Gerry Adams are both millionaires. Interesting, isn't it!

See also:
McGuinness should be prosecuted over gun photo
Bush 'turns back on IRA terror victims'
Irish police smash dissident bomb factory
IRA - finally dead and buried?
Lawyer was taped inciting others to murder taxi driver, court tol

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