McGuinness 'approved' lethal attacks


Further allegations that the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness authorised lethal IRA operations have been heard at the Smithwick Tribunal.

Expanding on earlier claims that Mr McGuinness as “OC Northern Command” of the IRA had authorised the killings of two RUC officers in March 1989, former British army intelligence officer Ian Hurst said “human bombs were also authorised by Martin McGuinness”.

The human bomb was a tactic in which the IRA was alleged to have forced people – usually either security force members or security force employees to drive car bombs to British military targets.

Mr Hurst repeated earlier assertions that Mr McGuinness was the officer commanding the IRA in Northern Ireland during much of the 'Troubles' and said he believed in this role Mr McGuinness would have had to sanction a range of major operations including killings.

Mr Hurst said Mr McGuinness’s public statements about leaving the IRA in the 1970s were lies and in fact Mr McGuinness was a Provisional IRA army council member for many years and was “responsible for controlling Freddie Scappaticci”.

He said: “McGuinness controlled Northern Command. He controlled it for the vast majority of the time, contrary to what he would have you believe that he left the IRA in the 1970s. That is not true. He was a member of the Northern Command of the Provisional IRA council responsible for controlling people like Scappaticci."

The tribunal has already heard claims from Mr Hurst that Mr Scapaticci was the deputy head of the IRA’s internal security unit while also passing information to the British military intelligence services.

Mr Hurst also claimed British intelligence operated on a 32-county basis with bases across the North, in Donegal and Sligo and elsewhere. He said information was gleaned from a range of sources including politicians, gardaí, customs officers and members of the army.

He specifically mentioned receiving information from a garda in Donegal who would travel to Ballymena, providing information for which he was paid about €60 a time.

The Smithwick Tribunal is investigating suggestions that members of the Garda colluded with the IRA in the murders of RUC officers chief supt Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan in 1989. The two officers were killed in an IRA ambush in South Armagh when returning from a visit to Dundalk Garda station.