A HISTORY OF HURT
The June of 1922 saw one of the vilest acts against humanity committed by the Republican movement. An event took place just outside of Newry involving the slaughter of nine people, which became deeply embedded on the psyche of local people -The Altnaveigh Massacre.
This massacre was the first and one of the clearest examples of ethnic cleansing in our area. It came about after the partition of Ireland, which was accepted by the overwhelming majority of people in Northern Ireland. However anti-democratic elements decided to oppose partition and erase the border by force of arms. To this end the IRA, with the support of Michael Collins and the Dublin Government attacked the fledgling Northern State in an attempt to destroy it and to force the majority population into a United Ireland against its will. In what was to be repeated decades later the republican movement took up the gun when its political aspirations were frustrated by democracy. Many facets of what can only be described as the Ulster-Irish War of 1922, have been duplicated during the present conflict. The Dublin government continues to participate in collusion with the IRA at a number of levels, and Republican murder gangs are still engaged in sectarian assassination and ethnic cleansing of the protestant population along the border. This was brutally repeated in the 1970s with a series of massacres including Kingsmills, Darkley and Tullyvallen. We have often been told to stop living in the past, however when the past repeats itself with such obvious and brutal consequences we are forced to face it. It is only by learning from it and dealing effectively with the issues it creates that we can move on. Over 92% of the murders remain unsolved and many of those responsible are living freely in the Republic of Ireland. Many factors contribute to the feeling of the victims that the IRA could not have operated so effectively without help from the Republic of Ireland. In short there can be no peace without justice and no justice without truth. To this end we dedicate ourselves to telling the truth of what happened to our family and friends and defending the ideals for which they died.
There is a history of hurt in the South Armagh area that goes well beyond the present troubles. The protestant and unionist people of this area can trace their origins back for centuries and their bond with the land and faith in God has given them an amazing resilience. They are the same stock that went on to colonise and shape the United States of America, with their survival instinct and rugged individuality. The two peoples learned to live together, and indeed within living memory that was so. The cause of conflict was not injustice or irreconcilable differences but the poison of Republicanism with its message of hate spelt out in the blood of innocents. In a farming community like South Armagh protestant and Roman Catholic helped one another especially at harvest time. There was little discernible difference as the people of the area worked together and played together. Sadly the bomb and bullet of the IRA shattered this picture of rural normality, as such relations were brought sharply to an end by IRA violence which affected both communities. For Republican politics to survive there had to be hate, for their ideas to flourish there had to be division, for their aims to be achieved there had to be murder.
The Altnaveigh Massacre
The IRA did not take long to establish its sectarian agenda as it attempted to destroy the protestant population along the border. The aim was to actually affect the outcome of a Border Commission, which was attempting to define the border. Making Northern Ireland so small as to no longer be viable was coupled with a general attempt to destabilise the state. Border raids, mass kidnappings, murder and various human rights abuses were intended to show the Unionist Government that it could not control areas of the country or protect its innocent citizens. As the infant state struggled for its survival it raised a Special Constabulary to restore law and order and protect vulnerable people from Republican murder gangs. The B Specials as it became known was composed of ordinary people from both traditions, both protestant and Roman Catholic - yes Roman Catholic! However Roman Catholic recruits were especially targeted for assassination and ostricisation by Republicans. The force as a whole became the focus for Republican attack and propaganda. Many in our area served valiantly and voluntarily in this Special Constabulary as a means of defending their family and home. They did this out of a sense of duty and loyalty, to their country, faith and family. This band of ordinary men was drawn from all walks of life and gave up their spare time to guard the homes of Ulster. Their success and dedication meant that innocent families could sleep safely in their beds free from the murderous attack of the IRA. It is nigh time for a reassessment of this force after decades of lies and propaganda. We therefore pay tribute to all those who served in the Ulster Special Constabulary and in particular those who paid the ultimate price for our continuing freedom.
The Altnaveigh Massacre is only one example of the Human Rights abuse and Ethnic Cleansing of our people. It goes a long way to proving the unchanging evil face of Republicanism and the role played by senior members of the Dublin Government in the murders in our area. The murders were co-ordinated by Frank Aiken, who went on to become External Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister in the Republic during the fifties under De Valera. He continued in the Irish cabinet until 1969. A South Armagh man from a strongly republican village, Aiken showed "no compunction about shooting unarmed Protestants". The IRA unit of several hundred men, which Aiken commanded, were recruited in South Armagh-North Louth and parts of Co Tyrone and South Down. He led terrorist attacks on Newtownhamilton and Camlough police stations, and before the Altnaveigh massacre, he was involved in the murders of policemen, soldiers and civilians. In June 1922 Aiken still in his early 20s, issued a directive to IRA men under his command, calling for the destruction of enemy property, the property of Orangemen and the shooting of spies and informers.
In contravention of all known War Conventions Aiken in fact declared war on the protestant population of the area. So fuelled was he by sectarian hatred that he ordered his men to burn them out. Anyone who was a member of the police or even helped them was liable to be shot; this was to all intents and purposes a death warrant to all Protestants. The fact they wore a uniform was only a bonus to this war criminal, who saw their religion as cause enough to kill them. The aim was to wipe out or drive out the entire protestant population of the border areas. During the early hours of the morning of June 17 Aiken's men claimed the lives of six Protestants at Altnaveigh and a policeman. This was the greatest loss of life in South Armagh on a single day until the Kingsmill massacre of January 1976, when the IRA shot 10 dead Protestant Workmen from Bessbrook. This particular atrocity was launched from across the border, with cars stolen in the South used to ferry the gunmen. The numbers involved leads to believe that they received assistance from sympathisers in the republic to move across the border. This is but one example of many which demonstrate how easy it was for terrorists to plan and launch their attacks from the safe haven of the Republic and then retreat across the border to avoid capture. It would seem that things have changed little for Protestants in this area. It is clear that the republican agenda remains unchanged, it is still bent on the destruction of the minority protestant population of the border areas.
The Events of That Terrible Night
The carnage began with the ambush of a 14-strong B-Special patrol mounted from McGuill's public house at Drumintee, later site of the Three Steps Inn pub from which SAS man Captain Robert Nairac was abducted and later murdered in May 1977. About 50 IRA men opened fire from in and around the pub, which, according to police documents, "was being used as a meeting place for Drumintee Company IRA", Special Constable Thomas Russell was shot in the head and killed and Special Constable George Hughes wounded. The ambush had been planned to divert Crown forces away from Altnaveigh where the sectarian killings were to take place. The Altnaveigh killings all took place after 2.30 am and lasted about an hour.
John Gray and his family at Lisdrumliska were the first to be woken and he and his wife, four daughters, five sons and two cousins were ordered downstairs. The house was set alight, while the family huddled together outside. Ordering the Grays to remain where they were, the raiders moved on to the Heslip household next door.
Finding John Heslip (54) his wife and two sons Robert (19) and William (16) hiding in a stable - they pulled them out and made then stand with their hands up as the house was burned, John and Robert Heslip were taken outside and shot dead. The IRA gang then returned to the Gray House, picking out Joseph Gray (20) and shooting him dead.
At 3 am, the same IRA group arrived at the house of Thomas Crozier, and elderly farmer, and his wife Elizabeth. Mr Crozier was shot and mortally wounded, falling into the arms of his son. When Mrs Crozier came out of the house she was shot twice and died 45 minutes later. The raiders exploded a bomb in the parlour before making off.
Meanwhile a second IRA group raided the Little and Lockhart households some distance away in the Altnaveigh townland. William Lockhart, his wife and their only son James (25) were ordered out before the house was burned. They were lined up with neighbours, the Littles. William Lockhart, his son James and John Little were then ordered to walk down the road. Mrs Lockhart protested and when her son turned to speak to her he was grabbed by one of the raiders who told him he has disobeyed orders and shot him dead at this mother's feet. His father and Mr Little were spared.
In the same period, a seventh Altnaveigh Protestant, Draper C Holmes, was also singled out and murdered.
Five other Protestant homes in the Altnaveigh area were also attacked and burned by the IRA that night.
Northern Ireland's First Disappeared Victim
One of the most horrific facts of the present Troubles is the Number of Victims whose bodies have never been found. Public opinion is disgusted with the IRA who are still stringing the families of the disappeared along, promising to return their bodies. The grief of losing a loved one to the terrorists is bad enough without actually having a body to bury. Because of the coverage of the families of the disappeared recently, we can all begin to understand what the family of William Frazer must have felt all those years ago. This particularly callous case Two weeks after the Altnaveigh massacre, William Frazer, a Protestant publican from Newtownhamilton, disappeared after being held up by three armed men as he drove to Newry. Lieutenant Colonel W B Spender, Northern Ireland Cabinet Secretary, wrote later that officials in Dublin had been "able to confirm that Frank Aiken is probably responsible for his (Frazer's) capture".
Still today most of the cases of torture remain unsolved, and those responsible remain at large. This is most suspicious because in many cases the events leading up to the individuals' deaths would create a large amount of forensic evidence. The victims' bodies often had teeth, fingernails, hair and skin removed, not to mention the blood loss.
A HISTORY OF COLLUSION
The Indictment of The Irish Government
In the course of ongoing research, the role of the Irish Government has continually surfaced. The involvement of government ministers in the formation, funding, arming and training of the Provisional IRA, has partially come to light in the Dublin Arms Trial of 1971, and the recent release of Cabinet papers. However there remains a shadowy world of collusion that is only slowly coming to light. There must be a far-reaching inquiry into the role played by the Irish Government in the ongoing terrorist campaign against innocent citizens of Northern Ireland. It must look into not only what the Dublin Government done but also what it didn't do, for example the lack of co-operation with our security forces to provide an effective policy to defeat terrorism. If there is nothing to hide then the Irish government must follow the lead of the British when they allowed the Bloody Sunday Tribunal. They must also stand over their own proclamations about the necessity of inquests. In our area the facts speak for themselves, the number of kidnappings, and torture cases are well documented, as are the massacres. One only has to look at the statistics to confirm the case against the Republican movement.
Case Study 1: Irish Government Ministers' Involvement With The IRA
1.1 Irish Deputy Premier Was IRA Murderer
Frank Aiken was born in the strongly republican village of Camlough, in South Armagh. After the First World War, when Republican terrorists fought to undue the newly formed state of Northern Ireland, Aiken led an IRA murder gang which terrorised and murdered innocent civilians many of whom may have been his own neighbours. One commentator says Aiken showed "no compunction about shooting unarmed Protestants".
The IRA unit of several hundred men, which Aiken commanded, were recruited in South Armagh-North Louth and parts of Co Tyrone and South Down.
He led terrorist attacks on Newtownhamilton and Camlough police stations, and before the Altnaveigh massacre, he was involved in the murders of policemen, soldiers and civilians.
In June, 1922 Aiken still in his early 20s, issued a directive to IRA men under his command, calling for the destruction of enemy property, the property of Orangemen and the shooting of spies and informers.
After the Civil War, Frank Aiken joined the Fianna Fail party and became a close associate of other former terrorists Eamon de Valera and Sean Lemass, holding senior posts in their cabinets.
He was deputy premier for 10 years from 1959 to 1969, but because of his past involvement, in sectarian killing during the 1920s he seldom travelled North. However the extent of the ongoing help and his role within the
Aiken died in 1983 and was buried in Camlough with an IRA funeral just a few yards from the grave of Raymond McCreesh, the IRA hunger striker who died in the Maze Prison two years earlier.
Though many years have passed since this atrocity took place, it must not be forgotten. It shows us that IRA violence is not a recent phenomenon but long running. It also highlights the untrustworthy position of the Irish government in this who having always provided a safe haven for terrorists, are now shown to be compose of men responsible for or associated with genocide.
1.2 Irish Foreign Minister's Father Was Prominent Terrorist
The recent resignation of Irish Government minister David Andrews may seem innocent enough, but a scratch beneath the surface could reveal the possibility of something more sinister. Ministers may come and ministers may go but Andrews was no ordinary minister, he was the son of Tod Andrews.
In June 1922 Andrews together with former Free State Deputy Prime Minister Frank Aiken, were responsible for one of the most heinous acts of barbarity ever perpetrated in the bloody history of Northern Ireland. It saw the deaths of nine individuals at Altnaveigh near Newry, murdered because their political and religious view was different to their killers.
The father of David Andrews was a prominent figure in the South Armagh IRA in the early days of Northern Ireland. The question we ask is 'was David Andrews forced out of office because of the severe alienation to unionism this exposure would produce?' The truth is we probably will never know for definite.
This man's strong sympathy for the Republican cause indicates he was at least a crypto-apologist for their actions, and wholly unsuited for any office. Andrews had promised a visit to South Armagh but this was cancelled. Was the Irish government afraid of loosing face with this man? The people along the border need to hear the truth.
We firmly welcome this man's departure from prominent politics. It is our hope that it will finally allow the admission by the Free State government of their bias and complicity with the Republican cause and its actions throughout this century, from De Valera to Jack Lynch and Sean Lemass, and even up to the present day.
1.3 Past continues to Haunt Present Irish Prime Minister
Few Irish Governments have taken such an active role in Northern Ireland affairs and many commentators have struggled with the question why. The concern to keep Republicans included in the political process irregardless of their activities and the willingness to defend them over such issues as decommissioning can only be explained in the context of the personal experience of key Irish Government Ministers and policy makers. Family, ideological and historical ties all explain the ease with which the Dublin government can support an organisation, which has killed thousands to achieve its goal.
Fianna Fail the party of government is a self-declared 'Republican party' and in reality it should not be a shock to realise that many of these second-generation politicians spring from families whose terrorist credentials are clear.
In the Whelan and Masterson biography of Bertie Ahern in a chapter entitled 'Round up the Usual Suspects' it becomes clear that Ahern's father Con remained on Garda Special Branch records as a known IRA terrorist. Indeed it is alleged that he was a suspect in the 1970 murder of Garda Frank Fallon.
Con Ahern had been a die-hard republican militarist who joined Tom Barry's 3rd Cork Brigade during the Anglo-Irish War and then fought on the anti-Treaty side in the Civil War.
He was judged such a threat by the Free State Government that he was jailed until the Civil War was over and remained on Special Branch files until the 1970s. Such was his role in the murders of the 1920s that he was deemed a threat until he became an old age pensioner.
This had a profound effect upon the young Ahern and now begs the question can this man be seen as an honest broker for peace in this island. Many question marks hang over the head of the current Irish Premier and these must be answered, before we as victims can trust the intentions of the Irish Government.
Case Study 2 Gardai Collusion
The recent revelations about Gardai collusion confirm the worst fears of many observers. It is made all the worse by the fact that the Irish Government have been most vocal about claims of RUC collusion. It would now appear that throughout the Troubles members of the Irish Police and the establishment generally were not only prepared to condone and turn a blind eye to terrorism but in some cases were actively involved in its promotion.
2.1 Gardai IRA Moles Revealed
Only now has the truth of the role some Garda officers played in the IRA murder campaign been established. The final pieces of the jig-saw are falling into place, as many events which were dismissed as coincidence at the time, now reveal themselves as collusion. The numerous times when IRA murder gangs evaded detection and made their escape over the border all point to the fact that many in the Gardai actually aided the terrorists in their deadly campaign. This help took the form of passing information on the location of checkpoints on both sides of the border, and in some cases actually entailed Gardai officers ferrying gunmen across the border. The direct result of this collusion was the murder of many of our friends and relatives.
Recently in the British Houses of Parliament Jeffrey Donaldson MP used parliamentary privilege to claim that now retired Garda Sergeant EOIN CORRIGAN was involved in the double murder of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Robert Buchanan who were ambushed on 20 March 1989 on the Edenappa Road near Jonesborough.
Details of their movements are believed to have been leaked by a member of the IRA who was also a senior Garda. RUC special branch confirm that the ambush only could have been staged with the help of members of the Garda.
The event is well catalogued in Toby Harnden's recent book where he states 'There was also technical information which confirmed that the IRA had been contacted by someone within Dundalk station. RUC special branch then received intelligence that a Garda officer had telephoned an IRA member to tip him off.
The sequence of events was confirmed by Detective Inspector L, a former member of Garda Special Branch, who said: 'I'm afraid the leak came from a guard. Bob Buchanan was a lovely, lovely man and those murders were an absolute tragedy. The fact that one of my colleagues was involved made the whole thing ten times worse'
A report indicating further cases of Gardai collusion with Republican terrorists has appeared in an article in the Irish Times on 10 March this year. It shows out the hypocrisy of nationalist Ireland in pointing out cases of complicity with terrorism within the RUC but ignore equivalent cases relating to Gardai collusion with Republicans.
It appears that the Gardai were passing intelligence to the IRA concerning movements of members of the RUC and members of the judiciary which led to the deaths of a number of people at the hands of Republicans. Of course IRA moles within the Gardai have never been caught or punished for their crimes.
One of these attacks led to the deaths of four RUC officers in May 1985: Tracy Doak, Steven Rodgers, David Baird and William Wilson. Such a compromise in border security failed to raise any eyebrows north or south of the border. It is also clear that the bomb itself was detonated from the Republic however as will be revealed later the Irish Authorities were far from co-operative in the following investigation.
Two years following this, information passed on from this mole led to the murder of Lord Justice Gibson and his wife Cecily when the car they were travelling in was bombed crossing the border.
1988 saw the murder of three members of the Hanna family whose car was bombed in an attempt to kill Judge Eoin Higgins and his wife. Once again information relating to the movements of the judge had been passed on from the Gardai.
In 1990 RUC Chief Superintendents Harry Breen and Robert Buchanan were ambushed and killed following a meeting with Dundalk Garda. In complying with Irish law they were both unarmed when they met their deaths thanks to the Garda mole.
The final target was Tom Oliver, a man who had been passing on information about IRA activities in the Cooley peninsular to the Garda who was tortured and then murdered. It was noted that no member of the Fine Fail government was present at his funeral. His death failed to lead to an internal inquiry. When the RUC traced the identity of the mole, he was merely moved to another posting until his retirement.
As victims we find such complicity and cover-up disgusting, especially when members of the current Irish government would criticise the UK government for alleged RUC collusion and call for public inquiries. We demand that a public inquiry into this takes place and that any involved are brought to justice. We have contacted the Taioseach regarding collusion within both police and government but have not received adequate an response. We are not saying that all Gardai are corrupt, however the high number of unsolved murders along the border requires attention, especially when such details have become apparent.
2.2 Creation of a Terrorist Safe-haven
The lack of effective cross-border security has meant that the Republic has effectively become a safe-haven for terrorists, with many Provos wanted for murder in Northern Ireland can live in freedom south of the border. The state of affairs which prevailed in the Republic has led many commentators to conclude that the Irish Authorities had either not the dedication or else the ability to curb Republican violence. The latter while true to some extent must now be questioned after the effective border security policy that was operated during the recent BSE Crisis. For thirty years the Gardai offered a catalogue of excuses for their failure to seal and police the border to prevent cross-border terrorism. However while the threat of murder gangs roving freely across the border was not enough to spur them into effective action the recent fears of BSE infected cattle being smuggled across the border resulted in what local have agreed was an unprecedented level of security. Further damning evidence that undermines the Irish Government's excuses is the recent high profile successes they have had against 'Dissident Republicans'. Numerous arms finds, and arrests have stood in glaring isolation to the lacklustre anti-terrorist campaign throughout the Troubles. Also the legislation brought in after the Omagh bomb, has shown the real hypocrisy of the Irish government who can tackle terrorism when there is some political gain to be made in doing so. Recent reports have shown that the same men behind the Omagh bomb have been involved in the massacre of our people for over three decades. The question must be asked - if a more effective effort had been made to defeat the IRA from the start of the Troubles would Omagh even have happened.
The creation of a terrorist safe haven can be traced to the reluctance of the Irish Security forces to co-operate with the RUC and British Army, to counter terrorism. The most shocking fact is perhaps that 800 Irish soldiers were not made availible for joint operations with their Northern counterparts. In the absence of a facility for hot pursuit the frontier was seen as an easy means of escape for the terrorists. Indeed there was more concerted effort to capture British Army patrols which strayed across the border. It is a sorry reflection on the priorities of the Irish Security forces that their most successful night of arrests was not against the IRA but rather eight British soldiers who ended up in court over a map reading error. If the same energy had been shown in the detection and capture of Republican murderers then perhaps the Kingsmill Massacre could have been prevented.
The latest involving a Garda sergeant charged with 40 counts of forging and stealing passports is made all the worse because of the forces' record on extradition. It appears that while some officers were obstructing extradition cases others were supplying terrorists with passports.
Both Finbarr Hickey, of St Mary's Court, Mary Street North Dundalk who faced 40 charges of falsely obtaining and forging passports between January 1995 and April 1996 and James Fox, of Meenascreebe in Saughart, County Louth were from areas which are notorious for their support of the South Armagh IRA.
The whole issue of passports is most serious as it not only allows terrorists to escape the country but also enables them to organise international arms smuggling. Well-known Republicans like Thomas 'Slab' Murphy and Gerry Kelly have been implicated in past Irish passport scandals. Those who supply the passports are as responsible for the deaths of those murdered by the IRA in England or Europe as the man who pulls the trigger.
There must be a full inquiry into this and other incidents of Gardai collusion with Republican murder gangs. We are at present researching a catalogue of collusion involving members of the Irish Government, Army and Police. A dossier of Gardai officers involved in collusion with republicans is currently prepared. These facts cannot be just ignored, the victims must hear the truth.
While we realise that not all Gardai officers are involved it is suspicious how few arrests or prosecutions there have been in the Dundalk area. The lack of effective action against Republicans meant that this area of the Republic was known as a safe haven for terrorists. The extent of the allegations is such that they cannot be dismissed as coincidence but rather point to collusion.
Also the Dublin Arms Plot which has resurfaced with the partial release of State Papers; and the recent allegations of Gardai collusion in the ambush and murders of Robert Buchanan and Harry Breen need urgent examination. The allegations made recently in a book about the activities of the IRA in South Armagh maintained that the RUC men were set up by a member of the Garda.
As a group we are determined to expose the true extent of the Irish Government and her citizens' role in the Troubles. For years Sinn Fein have been crying about alleged RUC collusion and using that as an excuse to disband that force. It will be interesting to see if they will apply the same logic to the Gardai or will they true to hypocritical fashion choose to ignore the issue. Also included in our files are numerous incidents where a blind eye was turned to terrorist activity, and even instances where gunmen were warned of British Army checkpoints. The whole issue of border security or the lack of it has been brought sharply into focus by the BSE crisis, which led to a complete, shut down of the border. To residents of South Armagh this was proof enough of the lack of will and effort on behalf of the Southern Authorities. Today there is little confidence and a high degree of suspicion about the Irish Government, their intentions and role. If we are to find peace and explore cross-border co-operation these fears must be allayed, the best way to do this is to hold an extensive public inquiry akin to the Bloody Sunday Tribunal.
HELP US TELL THE TRUTH