IRA men were shot in the back by SAS soldiers

HET findings published as Haass talks break up without agreement -into ‘Shot-to-Kill’ policy’s in the North of Ireland.

TWO IRA men were shot in the back by SAS soldiers in Co Tyrone 30 years ago, a report has found. The families of Colm McGirr (23) and Brian Campbell (19) on Monday 30th December said they planned to sue the British government and wanted fresh inquests into their deaths.


The news came as US diplomat Richard Haass failed to make the party’s in the North of Ireland come to an agreement on dealing with the past, parades and flags. Among the issues holding up the progress have been mechanisms for giving evidence to Historical inquires by bodies taking over the functions of the PSNI‘s/RUC‘s Historical Enquires Team (HET) and the Police Ombudsman. The fresh report into the Co Tyrone killings was carried out by a forensic pathologist for the HET. It appears to contradict accounts given by the undercover soldiers who claimed the pair were shot dead while pointing weapons towards them. Mr McGirr and Mr Campbell, who were members of the Provisional IRA, were murdered by the SAS in a  field on Cloghog Road near Coalisland, Co Tyrone, on December 4 1983. A third man was injured but escaped. Their deaths fuelled claims of a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy by the British government against IRA members.

Testimony from the soldiers had claimed that the men were removing weapons hidden in the field and on being challenged “Colm McGirr turned and pointed a shotgun towards one of the soldiers who then fired several shots at him”. Forensic pathologist Richard Shepherd reviewed the postmortem examination scene photographs and statements from four of the six soldiers prescent. He said he did “not believe Colm McGirr would have turned far enough to threaten soldiers” and “no shots had struck Brian Campbell from the front”. In his report, which the families have received, he concluded that because Mr McGirr was right handed, he did “not believe he would have turned far enough to threaten soldiers” if he was holding a weapon. “In my opinion therefore it is more likely that [Mr McGirr] received shots to his right side and back as he was facing into or towards the bush,” he said. The SAS also claimed one of the squad, known as Soldier A, then fired towards Brian Campbell who was holding an armalite rifle and had also turned and was facing them” However, Dr Shepherd concluded that “no shots had struck Brian Campbell form the front”. “I cannot exclude the possibility that the injury to the left upper back was inflicted as he lay on the ground,” he said, without ruling out the soldiers’ version of events in both cases. The IRA men’s families have now called for a fresh inquest into their deaths/murders. Solicitor Padraig O Muirigh, acting on behalf of the relatives said they would also take legal action against the British government.

“This report raises serious concerns in relation to the original soldiers’ statements,” he said. “In light of the disclosure of the Dr Shepherd’s report the families have made an application to the attorney general to direct a fresh inquest into the deaths/murders of Colm McGirr and Brian Campbell. “They will also be issuing civil proceedings against the minister of defence in relation to the unlawful actions of the soldiers.” Colm McGirr’s brother Brian (58), from Coalisland, claimed the British army discovered the arms cache three days earlier on December 1, but the weapons were not removed or disabeled. “We have no doubt that a carefully planned ambush was set by undercover British security forces that evening,” he said. “Through the 30 years that have passed we have sought the truth of what happened. We were led to bbelieve that the PSNI’s/RUC’s Historical Enquiries Team would make every effort to achieve the truth. “As part of this, a second pathologist has confirmed that the shootings could not have happened as described by security forces. Both men, Colm and Brian, were shot in cold blood in the back.” Mr McGirr said the families have been informed that the HSE investigation “is at an end and will proceed no further”. “We lived with a charade of an inquest in early years with no evidence of any sort offered as to what occurred. The McGirr and Campbell families will continue to demand that a new inquest is held to fully investigate all that occourred on that evening.” Reacting to the findings on Monday nnight, Dungannon Independent Republican councillor Barry Monteith said he was “not surprised” by the pathologist’s review and accused the British government of operating a ‘shot-to-kill policy in the North of Ireland. However, Dungannon DUP councillor Samuel Brush said he had no confidence in the HET. “There are dozens and dozens of murders around this area in South Tyrone that have not been looked at,” he said. “It baffles me that these things didn’t ccome to light then and can be turned up. “All we can do is work on reports as they come but is this report any better or any worse than the previous ones?”

With many thanks toto: The Irish News.

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A CRACK SAS it is heading back to Ulsterfor next month’s G8 summit. It is understood soldiers from the elite regiment will be based at RAF Aldergrove in the lead up to the summit which will herald the most exhaustive security operation ever mounted in the six counties.


All police leave has been canceled with PSNI/RUC numbers being boosted by by the arrival of an estimated 2,500 reinforcements from forces in Britain, bringing the number of police on the ground for the three day conference starting on June 17, to just under 10,000. There will also be a significant military presence on the ground and with each country also bringing it’s own security details to closely gaurd the world leaders, the area surronding Fermanagh‘s Lough Erne Resort will become one of the most militarised and secure zones on the planet. But it will be the presence of the SAS on the ground which has the potential to spark the most controversy.


Security sources have told us a unit will be stationed at RAF Aldergrove and will remain on full alert until all delegates have left the North of Ireland. The unit will remain on base, unless urgently required. “It is only natural that the SAS should be close at hand during the G8,” said our source. “The world’s leaders including Barack Obama are coming to Fermanagh and as such they demand and expect the ultimate protection.” The security operation surronding the summit is expected to cost in the region of £100 million. Last month the Sunday World revealed an eight foot steel fence is to be erected on the perimeter of the venue and there will be security patrols round the clock. It had been feared the resort would be the target of dissident attacks, but it  is extremely unlikely any terrorist group would attempt to breach such a ring of steel. The summit, will however, be the target of organized protests. Last night Donal O’Cofaigh of the G8 Not Welcome group, criticised the PSNI/RUC for what he described as “irresponsible, provocative and groundless ” accusations which include claims that protesters were preparing violent attacks on conference delegates. ” The statements coming from senior PSNI/RUC representatives to the media are outlandish and are clearly an attempt to smear and denidrate the thousands of people who will protest against the G8,” he said.” This sort of propaganda is designed to distrsct from the actual reasons why people wish to protest and an attempt to intimidate people from taking up their legitimate right to protestp peacefully.“The G8 governments represent the 1 per cent, not the 99 per cent. They are responsible for orchestrating the global austerity measures which are causing untold misery for ordinary people and msss unemployment in country after country. They seek to safegaurd an econimic system which results only in global poverty, permanent wars of plunder and widespread enviromental destruction.” He also called dissident groups to step back from the threat of violent action. ” The security agenda is only facilitated by the actions of paramilitary organisations who have announced their intention to target the G8 summit. In addition to the threat posed to ordinary people and their wider divisive impact of such activities, those tactics are deeply counter-productive.” Fermanagh G8 Not Welcome calls on all such groups to immediately cease any planned military actions related to the summit.”


Trade unionists, anti-war activists, charities, anti-fracking organistions, environmentists and pro-Palestinian lobbyists are all expected to be involved in demonstrations, under the banner People Before Profit. Police have also revealed they are exspanding custody provision at stations across the North of Ireland for the summit. Courts and prisons staff will also step up work-loads in the anticipation of extra arrests. An unused 108-capacity unit at Maghaberry high security prison in Co Antrim and a former army site in Co Tyrone have both been earmarked for use. People Before Profit spokesman Eamon McCann warned protesters to be wary of provocation and said campaigners had been alarmed at the sight of US security personel on the streets of towns accross Fermanagh. ” I would hope that the protests would be peaceful but you cannot rule out provocation in some form,” he said. Police defused a viable explosive device after a two day operation in Fermanagh last month. It haf been speculated the bomb had been destined for the Lough Erne Resort but that was quickly discounted with Lisnaskea security base the more likely target. But it highlighted the risk posed by dissident groups in Fermanagh.

With many thanks to : Richard Sullivan, Sunday World.

Flag Inappropriate and Offensive” – Boylan

Sinn Féin Assembly Member for Newry Armagh Cathal Boylan has lambasted those responsible for the erection on an SAS emblazoned flag at Loughgall recently.

“Local people living in the vicinity of Loughgall contacted me following sightings of this flag, which is believed to have been erected on 8th May, to express their shock and revulsion at the impliedmessage on the flag.

“As you will note from the photographs the flag has the words SAS 9-0 and what appears to be the SAS insignia. This flag has caused great offence and distress to the families of nine men killed in a most vicious manner by the SAS in Loughgall on May 8th 1987.

“On learning about this flag I immediately contacted the PSNI to request that they make investigations to have the flag removed. I am satisfied to say that this appears to have happened and this flag, which no doubt aimed to offend and to intimidate the local people, is no longer flying.”






A mural in Belfast on collusion between the Br...

An SAS soldier manufactured an account of the shooting of two IRA members in order to cover up the use of excessive force, a court has heard.

Dessie Grew (37), and Martin McCaughey (23), died when troops fired 72 bullets at the pair near farm buildings in Co Armagh in October 1990.

At the ongoing inquest into their deaths last Friday, the military witness, who gave evidence from behind a curtain at Laganside courts in Belfast, was identified only as Soldier C.

A barrister representing the men’s families, Karen Quinlivan, contested claims that he fired 19 rounds because he believed he was under attack, though it later emerged that the republicans did not shoot.

She said: “That is an account that you have made up in order to justify the extreme force that you used on the night in question.”

Soldier C confirmed that the troops gave no warning before firing, but he rejected claims that he had fabricated his account and said that he had opened fire in response to flashes that later emerged to have been caused by bullets fired by the soldiers.

The jury heard Soldier C had claimed to have opened fire because he believed his life and those of the other troops were at risk.

The inquest, which is in its fifth day, is one of several into so-called security force “shoot-to-kill” incidents which have sparked controversy and a series of official investigations.

Soldier C said he saw flashes through his night vision gun sight and moved forward with another soldier, firing as they closed in on the barn: “It’s a lot safer for us to do that than sit there and do nothing,” he said.

He said that firing stopped when they believed the shots being fired at troops had ended, but the barrister questioned this account because the troops were responding to flashes caused by their own bullets.

She said: “I am suggesting to you, Soldier C, that what you are saying makes absolutely no sense.”

The soldier answered: “That is your opinion and you are welcome to it.”

He added: “I believed my life and the lives of my team members were in danger.”

The inquest continues.


Read more:


Mural commemorating those killed in the Loughg...

TWO IRA men were shot dead as they lay wounded after being confrounted by SAS troops who had been keeping them under surveillance, it was claimed at an inquest on Wednsday 14th March 2012.

 Karen Quinlivan, a barrister representing the familes of the two Republicians, challenged soliders claims that they opened fire to protect themselves against armed terrorists in 1990 near a farm outbuildings in Co Armagh. She alleged : ” You make sure the wounded man is no longer wounded, he is dead.” Dessie Grew (37) and Martin McCaughey (23) died in a hail of 72 bullets near the farm buildings in October 1990. Special forces had been monitoring the mushroom shed near Loughgall because they suspected a stolen vehicle inside was to be used for terrorism. While soldiers argued that care had to be taken that suspects could no longer harm them, Ms Quinlivan asked whether they could have disarmed and arrested the two men.

She told a soldier witness at the Belfast inquest : ” After the two men had fallen to the ground in circumstances where they were clearly wounded by high-velocity rounds, which you will acknowledge are extremely damaging, SoldierD fired two shots into Dessie Grew as he ley face down on the ground and it appears also fired a third shot, the fatal shot, into Martin McCaughey’s head as he lay on his back on the ground.” Yesterday was day three (Wednsday 14th March 2012) of the inquest. Soldiers who will appear later are expected to argue that their lives were endangered, Ms Quinlivan said.

Loughgall, Co.

Evidence already before the inquest jury from a doctor who examined the dead IRA men said they were lying near guns and ammunition. Soldier J, an expert in training SAS soldiers, said servicemen may still be under threat even if their target is wounded. Ms Quinlivan said : ” You seem to be suggesting that it is soldiers’ practice to finish off wounded men?” Soldier J responded : ” It is in the soldiers mind tatn if he is approaching someone that may be wounded, may be still armed, may have something that could harm him, it is his responsibility to render that threat no more.” The inquest is one of several so-called security force ” shoot-to-kill ” incidents which have sparked official investigations. The officer commanding at the time, Soldier K, has denied there was a policy of shoot-to-kill.

The inquest continues….



AN IRA man was already dead or dying when he was shot on the ground from close range by an SAS soldier, a pathologist told a Belfast inquest. 

Dessie Grew ( 37 ) was one of two Provisionals gunned down near sheds under surveillance by special forces for terrorist activity near Loughgall, Co Armagh , in 1990. A total of 72 bullets were discharged at Martin McCaughey,(23) and Grew and a lawyer for their familes has accused a special forces member of finishing them off while they were  lying defenceless on the ground. Pathologist Dr Nat Cary said : ” You could not assume he ( GREW ) was dead but you could assume he was dying of his other wounds. Even when people are critically injured they may last a few minutes.” The inquest is probing one of several so-called security force ” shoot-to-kill ” incidents which have sparked controversy and a series of official investigations. Soldier D admitted firing the final two shots at Grew, claiming he moved as he opened a barn door, causing the former corporal to instinctively reach for his gun. Soldier D denied firing a third bullet at McCaughy’s head while he was lying on the ground. Dr Cary said that, given the number of bullets discharged and the nature of the injuries, it was highly likely that Grew and McCaughey received shots whilst on the ground or partially so.

The inquest continues….



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