News - March 2002


29th March '02

The following is the text of the IRA's annual Easter message, appearing in this week's issue of An Phoblacht/Republican News.


On this, the 86th anniversary of the Rising of Easter 1916, the leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann extend our solidarity to our Volunteers and their families and to our supporters at home and abroad. We also extend fraternal greetings to imprisoned comrades and to their families.

Easter is the day set aside by republicans to honour our dead. Today we remember our fallen comrades who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom. We extend our solidarity to their families and we pay tribute to the dignified manner in which they carried their loss.

This Easter sees the initiation of the Roll of Remembrance, which will serve as a testimony to the many republicans, Volunteers and activists who have given lifelong and dedicated service to the Republic.

The IRA leadership would like to thank all of those who have organised Tirghra, the national tribute to our fallen comrades. It is fitting that the families be honoured in this unique way.

The leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann reaffirm our commitment to our republican objectives. We seek the establishment of an Irish republic as outlined in the Proclamation of 1916. We reaffirm our commitment to the achievement of a just and lasting peace.

Since Easter last year, Sinn Fein has increased its electoral mandate in the Six Counties to unprecedented levels of popular support. The army recognises that there is the potential to replicate this progress in the coming months in the 26 Counties. It is the duty of all republicans and nationalists to support this project. More and more people understand and embrace the republican analysis. Their voice and their demand for the reunification of Ireland grows stronger by the day.

As Irish republicans, the leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann believe that the unity of our country and its people is the only way to secure justice and to 'cherish all the children of the nation equally'.

Since 1994, the IRA leadership has demonstrated the necessary commitment to ensure that a lasting and durable peace settlement can be found. We commend the discipline and integrity shown by our Volunteers and support base who, irrespective of the many and often politically manufactured difficulties which we have encounterd in those intervening years, have remained strong and united.

However, the securing of a democratic peace settlement is not solely a task for republicans and we are mindful of the primary obligation of the British government and of the unionist leadership. The Irish government too has its responsibility.

The leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann will not be deflected from our historic task and we pledge that our work will continue until we have achieved a democratic socialist Republic.

P O'Neill
Irish Republican Publicity Bureau

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20th March '02

Reproduced from RM Distribution Irish Republican News and Information

The British network of spies and informers in the North of Ireland is reported to be on the point of collapse following a highly sinister incident at the headquarters of the RUC's Special Branch on Sunday night.

Three men, including at least one with inside knowledge, magically penetrated to the heart of the sprawling Castlereagh complex in east Belfast. They spent thirty minutes sifting through files and made off with sheaves of documents on the dealings of the 'security forces' with their many informers and double-agents.

The raid is clearly an effort to conceal the truth of crimes, including state-sponsored murder, carried out by members of the Crown forces and their agents over a thirty-year history.

The complex from which sensitive files were stolen was one of the centres used by the British army's infamous undercover squad, the Force Research Unit (FRU), which has been implicated in the murder of several Catholics. Despite some recriminations between the Special Branch and British military intelligence, most believe the orders for the raid came from the top.

The raiders passed through a security checkpoint manned by an armed guard, gained entry to rooms secured by coded keypads and opened secure cabinets. They knew what they were looking for and they knew where to look.

The raid on Sunday at one of the most heavily guarded state institutions in the north bears a remarkable similarity to a raid on top security RUC offices in 1990.

Castlereagh, the Special Branch's notorious interrogation centre is ringed by 20-metre steel fencing with watchtowers and floodlights. A location where in the past tens of thousands of northern nationalists have been held for interrogation, the centre is deemed impenetrable.

Inside a network of elaborate security systems have been designed to protect some of the northern state's most dangerous secrets.

Clearly operating with an insider's knowledge, the raiders appear to have struck at the very heart of Special Branch covert operations. Targeting an office where the Special Branch runs its network of informers and agents, an important nerve centre for British military intelligence and inner sanctum of counter insurgency plots and ploys.

According to reports, having already breached the outer security cordon, three unmasked men entered the first floor Special Branch office shortly before 11pm on Sunday night. One of the men had an English accent. A Special Branch officer on the premises at the time was subsequently bound and gagged.

It is believed that the men would have had to produce identification at the perimeter barrier, at the door and a security pass for rooms inside.

The gang gained access to secret files and apparently removed a number of documents, described as 'highly sensitive,' before making a successful getaway. The three men apparently entered and left the complex without being challenged.

A PSNI source within Castlereagh has admitted the raid must have involved "someone closely connected to us." And not just 'close' even within the Special Branch not every officer would have had specific knowledge to access the security systems protecting the most 'sensitive' material.

"I have worked with the Special Branch for 30 years," a former RUC officer admitted, "and I wouldn't know how to do this kind of thing."

In 1990 a covert British army unit gained entry to top security offices at another RUC base that had been allocated to a team of English police officers tasked with investigating allegations of Crown force collusion with loyalist death squads. The offices were set alight and documents destroyed.

The 1990 raid came on the eve of the planned arrest of Brian Nelson, a British army agent working with the UDA. Through Nelson and the covert Force Research Unit, British Military Intelligence re organised, re armed and directed loyalist death squads.

A parallel conspiracy also operated at the heart of the RUC. As an FRU agent Brian Nelson played a key role in the killing of Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane, but Special Branch agent and UDA quartermaster William Stobie played another key role.

Within the RUC, the Special Branch, wielded absolute power and the ruthless manner with which they operated has highlighted by a number of former RUC officers. RUC Detective Johnston Brown challenge a Special Branch decision not to pursue a self confessed loyalist killer and was subsequently subjected to death threats and threats of plots against his son.

One of the key reasons why the PSNI remains unacceptable to most nationalists is the failure of the British government to curtail the power of the Special Branch. The guidelines that gave Special Branch primacy were introduced by British Military Intelligence. Through the Special Branch MI5 controlled the RUC.

Commenting on the Castlereagh raid, Sinn Fein's Chief Whip Alex Maskey called for an immediate independent investigation and said the Ombudsmans Office should carry out a thorough investigation.

"Castlereagh has been the centre of Special Branch operations in the Six counties for thirty years. It is from Castlereagh that shoot-to-kill operations, the collusion with loyalists and the torture of people was directed," said Maskey.

Describing Castlereagh as 'probably the most secure barracks in Europe', Maskey continued, "few believe that the officers at the very centre of this fortress were raided, files were removed and the people involved were not seen and no one knows how or why this happened."

"This could not have happened without the sanction of senior figured within the Special Branch or British Intelligence," said Maskey.

Meanwhile it has been revealed that the Stevens team, investigating the murder of Pat Finucane, has uncovered evidence that the Special Branch gave guns to loyalist killers.

Forensic tests have shown that a Special Branch officer gave a weapon to a known loyalist killer that was later used in the murder of six Catholics. Relatives of those killed will be informed.

The Special Branch have already confirmed the leak which is expected to be included in a report schedule to be handed over to the PSNI by the Stevens team in May.

It is believed that the Special Branch will claim that the incident was 'isolated' and the result of a 'blunder' but one source has already described the revelation as "the tip of the iceberg."

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