Kay’s Tavern -the Glenanne Gang and the Loughinisland Report – Step change needed by Irish government – Gerry Adams TD
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has called for a “step change in the Irish government’s approach to the failure of the British government to provide documentation in its possession in respect of state collusion, including the bomb attacks in Dundalk and Dublin and Monaghan, and to hold the long promised inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane”.
The Louth TD said:
“The report by the Police Ombudsman in the north into the killing of six men at Loughinisland in June 1994 has again lifted the lid on the use of state collusion by the British authorities with unionist paramilitaries.
It also reveals that the weapons used in the Loughinisland attack were part of the south African sourced arms shipment which arrived in late 1987 and which was stored for a time at James Mitchell’s farm in South Armagh. The Mitchell farm was the centre of activities for the infamous Glenanne Gang.
The Barron Commission has already linked the bomb attack in December 1975 on Kay’s Tavern in Dundalk, in which Hugh Watters and Jack Rooney were killed, with the Glenanne Gang which is reputed to have killed at least 120 people, including 34 in the Dublin Monaghan bombs.
The Police Ombudsman in the north is currently carrying out an investigation into the activities of that gang which included the UVF, British agents and members of the British forces.
According to the Police Ombudsman’s report Mitchell, who had been a member of the RUC reserve, was under surveillance in the 1970’s by the British and that he allowed his ‘farm to be used for related preparatory acts’.
The British need to tell the families if the farm under surveillance at the time of the Kay’s Tavern attack?
After the importation of a huge shipment of weapons for the UVF, UDA and Ulster Resistance in late 1987; with the active participation of British agents, some of the weapons were stored on this farm. Mitchell was ‘warned that police intended to search his farm, as a result of which the individuals involved loaded the remaining weapons into the farming vehicle, which Mr Mitchell drove to a safe location at Markethill.’
The Police Ombudsman found that two of the weapons connected to the Loughinisland attack were from this shipment.
He also concluded that weapons from the shipment were also linked to ‘at least 70 murders and numerous other attempted murders’ by loyalist death squads.
It is clear from this report and from others, including the Barron Commission report; a previous report of the Police Ombudsman into the activities of the RUC Special Branch and UVF agent Mark Haddoc; and the case of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane, that the British authorities knew of the activities of these agents and informers and colluded in covering up their actions.
State collusion between British security agencies, the RUC and UDR and unionist paramilitary organisations is an established fact.
The Glenanne Gang killed scores of Irish citizens on both sides of the border. This demands a robust response by the Irish government. A step change in its response to collusion is urgently needed. It needs to put in place a consistent strategic engagement with the British government.
As a co-equal guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, the Irish government must use all of the resources, all of its diplomatic services; its access to scores of international bodies it is a member of, including the United Nations, to exert pressure on the British government to open its books on collusion and to demand the establishment of the Pat Finucane Inquiry.”
Note to Editor:
Police Ombudsman’s Report into Loughinisland – Section relating to James Mitchel.
4.143 James Mitchell and his farm
4.144 Mr James Mitchell was an RUC Reserve Constable between 1974 and 1977. He is now deceased.
4.145 It has been alleged that Mr Mitchell performed a central role in what has become known as the ‘Glenanne Gang’, a group allegedly composed of members of the UVF and security forces, including police officers. They are alleged to have been responsible for numerous murders, both in this jurisdiction and the Republic of Ireland, during the 1970s. A leading member of the gang was allegedly Robin ‘the Jackal’ Jackson, who is also deceased. Mr Mitchell’s farm is alleged to have been used for the storage of weapons and construction of explosive devices.
4.146 I have received numerous complaints in relation to ‘collusion’ and other serious matters involving members of the RUC and their involvement with the ‘Glenanne Gang’ and have commenced an investigation, which due to its complexity is likely to be of a prolonged nature.
4.147 I have, however, established from police records that James Mitchell’s farm was, for a period of time, under surveillance during the 1970s and that during this period he was alleged to have assisted the ‘Glenanne Gang’ insofar as he allowed his farm to be used for related preparatory acts.
4.148 Mr Mitchell was directly implicated in terrorism by police officers, who were themselves accused of serious crime. He was arrested in 1978. Page 49 of157
4.149 At interview Mr Mitchell described his farm as one of the main UVF arms dumps for mid-Ulster. Police Officer 16, who at the time was a Detective Inspector attached to Armagh CID, participated in the interview of Mr Mitchell. On 30 June 1980 Mr Mitchell was convicted of possessing two sub-machine guns, ammunition and explosives and sentenced to three one year prison sentences, each suspended for two years.
4.150 In late 1983 James Mitchell was connected, by police intelligence, to the storage of firearms on behalf of the UVF.
4.151 Within a week of the arrests at Mahon Road, police were aware that a number of men, including James Mitchell, had met at a house in Markethill to discuss the arms seizure at Mahon Road. It is noteworthy that Person D resided at Markethill.
4.152 In 1990 police received reliable information about James Mitchell’s previous activities in concealing weapons for the UVF. This information described arrangements between the UVF, UDA and Ulster Resistance immediately before the intended distribution of the firearms from his farm. The reporting included details of the meeting on 7 January 1988 at a named location attended by senior commanders of the various organisations’ leadership. This is corroborated by other intelligence seen (previously referred to at para. 4.140).
4.153 Intelligence records indicate that the RUC searched Mitchell’s farm on 21 January 1991 and recovered 173 rounds of .303 ammunition and 49 rounds of .455 ammunition from the grounds of the property. This ammunition is not of the type previously recovered at Mahon Road, or subsequently at Flush Road, North Belfast. No person was charged in relation to this seizure.
4.154 My investigation has found no evidence that James Mitchell was subject of enquiries by police in relation to his alleged role in the importation and/or handling of the firearms, which are believed to have arrived in Northern Ireland in late 1987. Page 50 of157
4.155 Information was received by police in 1988 that within two hours of Person E’s arrest at Mahon Road, the remaining firearms were removed in a farming vehicle from Mitchell’s farm to another location. The 1990 information reported that James Mitchell had been warned that police intended to search his farm, as a result of which the individuals involved loaded the remaining weapons into the farming vehicle, which Mr Mitchell drove to a safe location at Markethill.
4.156 The 1990 intelligence concluded by reporting that Robin Jackson had possession of some of the weapons from Mitchell’s farm, including ten ‘AK’ assault rifles (likely to have been a reference to VZ58 rifles), ammunition and an RPG launcher, and subsequently distributed two of the rifles and the RPG launcher to Person Y, the ‘Brigadier’ of East Belfast UVF.
4.157 This supports intelligence from February 1989 that Lurgan UVF had a large number of weapons from the 1987 loyalist shipment in a deep hide under the control of Robin Jackson.