September 13, 2017 | Author: not_telling_you | Category: Provisional Irish Republican Army, Irish Republicanism, Politics Of Ireland, Politics, Unrest
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John Mooney and Michael 0'Toole

Black Operatlons The Secret War Against the Real IRA


MAVERICK HOUSE PUBLISHERS Published by Maverick House, 115 Ashbourne Industrial Estate, Ashbourne, Co. Meath [email protected] http://www.maverickhouse.com


Copyright O 2003John Mooney and Michael O'Toole

First published in 2003

'Only the dead have seen the end of the war.,

ISBN 0-9542945-5-6


Printed by Mackays of Chatham Ltd Typeset byJean Harrington

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmined in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inserdon in newspaper, magazine or broadcast.

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John Mooney dedicates BL{,cK opERATIoNS toJean and Aoileann.

Michael O'Toole dedicates this book to the memory of his father, Gerry O'Toole, RIP. Thanks for the sunshine, pops.

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Acknowledgments Intoduction 1. The Qrartermaster General 2. The New Army 3. Sovereignty 4. The Informant 5. Cat and Mouse 6. The First Martyr 7. Clandestine Diplomacy 8. The Border Campaign 9. Prelude to a Massacre 10. August 15 11. Ceasefire 12. The Confession 13. Another Informant 14. Inside the Secret Army 15. Back in Arms 16. The Campaign 17. The Next Victim 18. Face to Face 19. The tial



2I 29 43 54 70

84 110

r26 L4I 158

t7r 191


22r 25r



280 306




List of Abbreviations Appendix Index

334 335 338



OpoRarroNs IS primarily about the secret war waged by the Irish security services against the republican Michael McKevitt and the Real IRA. However, the book is as much about the 29 people and unborn twin girls who were murdered by the Real IRA when it bombed Omagh, a market town in County Tyrone, on 15 August 1998. The bombing was the single greatest loss of life in the history of the Northern Ireland conflict. My only frustration in writing Black Operatiozr is knowing that the families of those massacred will find on paper no more than a written account of the terrible grief and trauma they endured. I was humbled to meet the Omagh families and hear their stories. In this regard, I offer my eternal thanks to Donna Maria and Victor Barker, whose sonJames died in the Omagh massacre. Their willingness to recount the nightmare of losing their son was a truly heart-rending and unforgettable experience. But I am indebted to all the families-particularly the Gallaghers, Lawrence Rush, Kevin Skelton and Mark Breslin-who gave their time freely and spoke openly about their losses. I would also like to thank Pat McElhatton, who filmed the Omagh bombing, and Joan Kernan. :i


On a personal note I would like to thank my friends and f'amily, particularly my parents, and my friends Fr. Joe Whelan, Alan Faherty and Susie Harrington. It is only fitting to posthumously thank my friend Robert Harrington, who died earlier this year, for all his help and good advice. I also wish to thank my wife Jean for her help and solid support. This book would not have been written without her loyalry good advice and friendship. A number of colleagues helped with the research. I would like to thank Sefn McMahon of The Arugl'o Ceh,Liam Clarke andJohn Lee of Tbe Sandajt Times, and Vincent Kearney and Brendan McCourt of the BBC. Gerard Colleran, editor of Tbe Star was also generous in affording me time off to write the book. Fiona Barry and Michael Kealey of William Fry Solicitors were more than accommodating in preparing the manuscript for publication. A number of republicans also spoke freely about the Real IRA and Continuity IRA. Many spent long hours explaining the intricacies of the republican rnovement and why they opposed the Provisibnal IRAs journey into constitutional politics. They made an important contribution to Blach Operations. My final thanks go to sections of An Garda Siochina. The task of combating the Real IRA fell largely on their shoulders and it is no exaggeration to say the secret work of certain garda departments saved countless lives and helped constittltional politics flourish in Northern Ireland. If the Real IRA had not been infiltrated and spied on, there is no doubt that many more innocent people would have died.

The garda departments worthy of sincere praise are Crime and Securiry the National Surveillance Unit and Special Branch. The detective units at Monaghan and Dundalk Garda Stations, which investigated the Omagh atrocity, also curtailed the Real IRA and secured justice for the Omagh families. Their task was not an easy one.

I believe that future historians will properly acknowledge the role of these garda units and individual detectives, who fought the Real IRA and helped stop the gruesome violence that perpetuated the Northern Ireland conflict for so long.


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thank those sources, both republican and from the security agencies, who spoke on condition of anonymity. They are many; each of the sources provided information vital to our research. Without their help, this book could not have been written. Many other people spoke on the record and I also thank them, including Joe Dillon, Rory Dougan and Francie Mackey. Thanks also go to Donal. I also wish to thank the Garda Press Office for its help. I want to reserve a special thanks for Mavis McFaul, who welcomed me into her house and spoke so candidly about the loss of her partner, David Caldwell, in the most trying of circumstances. I wish also to thank all my colleagues in The Star,particularly editor Gerard Colleran, Gary Ashe, Shane Doran, Catherine Halloran, and Jason O'Brien. I also thank Robert, Michael, Brian, and Humphrey. My eternal thanks go to the inestimable Diarmaid Mac Dermott of Ireland International News Agency.I want to thank him for his advice, help and, above all, friendship over the last six years. Thanks also go to Robert Kennedy-Cochrane, Eamon Dillon, Liz Trainoq S6amus McKinney and Tony Bailie. I also thank my wonderful family: my parents Gerry and May, for everything and my siblingsJim, Gerry Kev, Kathy, Brendan, and my best friend of 33 years, Conor. I want to thank the Larkin family for their

encouragement and support. But, above all, I wish to thank my beloved wife, Olga, who has given me a unique gift: happiness.

INTRODUCTION by Victor Barker

THsnB IS No DoUBT that my British Ancestors were responsible for acts of unforgivable cruelty and repression on the island of Ireland. The force of British imperialism was, at times, uncompromising and callous. Following the 1916 Easter Rising and the birth of the Irish Free State, the bitterness, which was left in the hearts of so many Irish people, still runs in the blood of many who call themselves Irish republicans. The separation of the six counties left a physical and religious divide which remained a breeding ground for that bitterness and hatred. But times change and with understanding and compromise on both sides the Good Friday Agreement was reached in 1998, an agreement which was acceptable to the vast majority of all people on the island of lreland, as a means of solving their differences. The cornerstone of that agreement was mutual respect and understanding-but above all a respect for the dignity of human life. I remember that afternoon vividly-a journey back from Belfast airport with my wife and three children in the car, passing through the Glenshane Pass on our way to our home in Buncrana County Donegal. We heard the news of the Good Friday Agreement and I

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