Attacks not mentioned at secret meeting.
A HIGH-ranking member of MI5/MI6 met a UVF delegation just weeks after the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Secret papers reveal that four men from the loyalist paramilitary group met with senior intelligence officer Michael Oatley aafter it had detonated bombs in Dublin and Monaghan in May 1974, killing 33 people.
Senior British government official James Allan also attended the meeting on May 27 at a house in Hollywood, Co Down, known as Laneside. A long-serving MI6 operator, Mr Oatley had strong contacts with both republican and loyalist groups througout the Troubles and is beleived to have been instrumental in the process that ultimatley resulted in the Provisional IRA calling its 1994 ceasefire. The UVF delegation comprised West Belfast man Ken Gibson, beleived to have been the leader of the UVF in 1974, and three other men who are named in the recently uncovered document. Laneside was regulary used by British officils as a discreet location to meet and hold talks with both loyalists and nationalist representatives in the 1970’s. Staffed by various Northern Ireland Office and British government officials, it was also used by officers of MI6, the international arm of the British Secret Services. Documents recentiy uncovered by the Pat Finucance Centre in Derry reveal that MI6 officials meet the four-stong UVF delegation ovef two days. The meetings took place less than two weeks after three UVF bombs exploded in Dublin and one in Monaghan as the Ulster Workers Strike was nearing an end. Despite this, no mention of the atrocities was made during the minutes.
Instead, in a summary of the meeting prepared by James Allan, it has emerged he was keen to protect senior UVF men from arrest. ” The UVF’s relationship with us has become very stange,” he said. ” They are desperately in need of advice as to how to achieve their aims of ensuring working class, and above all UVF participation in politics and they seek this even though they know that there are basic differences between them and HMG on the strike. ” Further, they are clearly worried that their position may be undermined by arrest of UVF leaders. (I beleive we should think very carefully before action is taken vis a vis UVF politicals and I should be greatful to have the opportunity to comment on possible arrest lists).” Two days later, on May 29, Ken Gibson and a second UVF man returned to Laneside for more talks. During these discussions it emerged that the UVF leaders claimed both they and former first minister, then leader of the DUP, Ian Paisley, now Lord Bannside, were supportive of talks with republicans.
The government summary of the meeting said : ” Despite their rough words in public politicians, including Rev Ian Paisley, were in favour of conversations with the IRA.” It would be more than three decades before the DUP leader finally went into goverenment with Sinn Fein at the Stormont assembly. The UVF men also revealed their support for the Price sisters, Dolours and Marian, who at the time were on hungerstrike in an English jail.”ThePrice sisters should be returned to Ireland as should loyalist prisoners like Billy Campbell held in Scotland,” reported James Allan. ” Mr Gibson suggested the loyalist leaders would probably start a ccampaign for the return of all such prisoners. ” Part of their aim in doing so would show solidarity with republicans.” Margaret Irwin from Justice for the Forgotten, a group that represents the families of those killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, said she was concerned about the files. ” The thing that is very disturbing is that the British government were considering not arresting UVF leaders especially coming in the wake of the bombings,” she said. ” It brings home the importance of the British government being up front in relation to undisclosed files.”
- The full files can be seen at
With many thanks to : Connia Young, Irish News.
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