Retired garda questioned about MI6 whistleblower


A RETIRED Garda detective claimed privilege in a court yesterday after he was questioned about former MI6 officer and whistleblower Fred Holroyd – even though he said he did not know him.

Former detective John McCoy was giving evidence by videolink from Dublin in the resumed trial at Belfast Crown Court of Tyrone republican Gerry McGeough, who is denying the attempted murder of a UDR soldier nearly 30 years ago.

The prosecution claims Mr McGeough (51) was injured after his intended victim Samuel Brush returned fire during an ambush near Aughnacloy in June 1981. It is alleged that Mr McGeough, from Carrycastle Road, Dungannon, who stood in the 2007 Assembly elections, was treated for a gunshot wound in a Dublin hospital before being transferred to Monaghan County Hospital.

Mr McCoy said he was one of the Garda officers assigned to guard a man he believed to be Mr McGeough, but the patient walked out of the hospital along with a large group of visitors, including a leading IRA man.

During cross-examination a lawyer for Mr McGeough asked Mr McCoy if he knew a man called Fred Holroyd.

He replied that he did not know him, but added: “I would claim privilege on that.”

Mr McCoy said he had read plenty of newspaper articles “that I have been associated with that particular gentleman, but I cannot recall ever having met him”.

The lawyer asked Mr McCoy: “Why did you ask to claim privilege in respect of someone you didn’t know?”

Mr McCoy replied: “I didn’t want to pursue it to protect the State.”

He added: “My reputation has been linked to this man by numerous statements and articles in the papers and this gentleman said he knew me.”

He insisted he had never had any dealings with Mr Holroyd.

Vincent McAnespie (47), from Aghabo Close, Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone, is denying possession of guns and ammunition and impeding Mr McGeough’s apprehension by hiding the weapons.