“I do believe they were from a republican background, but I can`t say any more.”

A reminder today of the kind of event which was supposed to be part of that sealed and buried past – even though this murder actually took place in 1999. The inquest into the murder of Eamon Collins, the former Provisional IRA member who was the key witness against a number of suspects until family pressure caused him to retract his evidence, co-author of Killing Rage, he himself walked free from court on 50 terrorist charges when the judge dismissed his alleged confessions. In 1998 Eamon Collins had testified against Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy in Murphy’s failed libel case against the Sunday Times. According to the reports today, “A member the Historical Enquiries Team told the court the case was being re-examined.” Some arrests did take place at the time, but no-one has been ever been charged with the murder – described today by both the coroner and the state pathologist as “one of the most brutal, horrific and grotesque murders they had encountered.”From the UTV report

Collins, a former IRA intelligence officer, owned up to his reign of terror in a book, Killing Rage.

He feared for his life after becoming an informer and giving evidence that convicted a number of IRA men during the 1980s.

He fled Newry but returned years later when the IRA offered a post-ceasefire amnesty to informers if they made a public retraction of their evidence.

The murdered man`s widow, Bernardette, told the inquest they suffered harassment and experienced difficulties after returning to Newry. On one occasion, she said, their house was burnt down.

When she was asked whether she believed the IRA was responsible for her husband`s murder, she said: “I do believe they were from a republican background, but I can`t say any more.”

While the BBC report notes

Retired detective chief inspector Kenneth McFarland, who led the investigation into the killing, said: “I believe south Armagh Provisional IRA carried out this murder.”

And from Kevin Toolis, writing in the Guardian on 3 July 1999

News of the murder, and Collins’s identity, was on the midday news, but there was none of the long litany of anguished quotes that accompanied most of the Troubles’ victims. Secretary of state Mo Mowlam did not get up in parliament to lambast the killers; there were no cries of outrage from Ian Paisley or John Hume. The Dublin government and taoiseach Bertie Ahern were silent. David Trimble said it was a breach of the IRA ceasefire and that the British government must address the issue.

Martin McGuinness said he had “no idea” who killed Collins. But the public protests pretty much stopped there, as if the killing of Collins was personal, internal unfinished business between republicans. And definitely not something to be raised over the table between Gerry Adams and Tony Blair in Downing Street. It should have been.

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  • PeaceandJustice

    The dogs in the street know Sinn Fein IRA carried out this murder in 1999. The DFM must be very very proud of the SF IRA death squads.

  • The Dubliner

    While it may be pointless to point out that Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy is the Chief of Staff of PSF/PIRA’s Army Council, which is the authority that the Deputy First Minister of NI is answerable to, and that he is on an Underworld Rich List as a leading figure in organised crime, being inextricably linked to organised crime and being inextricably linked to PSF/PIRA’s Army Council and thereby inextricably linked to the Deputy First Minister, or to point out that he ordered his thugs, the Deputy First Minister fellow organised crime members, to drive a spike through the head of Eamon Collins, I will point it out anyway – just to remind myself of the Cloud Cuckoo Land that is NI politics.

  • Irish Republican in America

    When the UDA shot the PSNI officer recently, did we get the nostalgic “remember when” link backs to when UDA killed other RUC/PSNI?

  • The Dubliner

    The UDA aren’t inextricably linked to a party that is in the Executive, a party that is inextricably linked to an oganised crime cartel that is dedicated to self-enrichment at the direct expense of the society that the Deputy First Minister was appointed to office to serve, so your whataboutery isn’t relevant. As Kevin Myers pointed out:

    “The Waffen ShinnerShip — the IRA Army Council — still commands an army. But more to the point, as the deaths of Paul Quinn and Eamon Collins prove, with depraved minds like theirs, these characters don’t need guns. So of course, they haven’t gone away. Why should they? Their bloody intransigence has been rewarded with corrupt and corrupting laws which ensure that, no matter what they do, they must be in any Northern government. So, we can all now agree — Paul Quinn, RIP: Rot Invisibly Please.”

    But I wouldn’t worry so much about organised ciminal gangs being deemed by the public (never mind other authorities) as being unfit for public office because, as Mr Myers also pointed out, the public have developed their own coping techniques to ensure that they can dwell in Cloud Cuckoo Land with only short interuptions:

    “Maybe, if we unleash that relentless dynamo called “national amnesia”, we shall soon forget the inconvenient life, and the inconvenient death, of Paul Quinn; rather as we have largely forgotten the inconvenient life, and the inconvenient death, of Robert McCartney; just as we have totally forgotten the inconvenient life, and the inconvenient death, of Eamon Collins.”

  • Sandy

    One of the more worrying aspects, for all concerned in this issue is the particular brutality of the killing. While we are used to words of disgust being spoken, to the point that they are essentially meaningless, the chief coroner and pathologist for NI make compelling arguments. Who better to comment on the brutality of a killing?

    Which brings me to my point, Eamon Collins was, among other things, stabbed in the face many times. Not an idealistic military execution, not a “clean” death. Instead the act of a pure psychopath(s). Killing for fun. This isn’t behaviour which can be turned on and off. It takes careful deliberate sheer evil to do that to another human being, regardless of the justification. Those sorts of people simply don’t just “go away”.

  • PeaceandJustice

    The public has a right to know if any of these Sinn Fein IRA psychopaths now have any involvement in the Government.

  • andy

    Actualy i think Irish republican in Americas whataboutery is right on the money. This deals with an event that happened eight years ago so is hardly relevant to the executive as it is established now (not criticising you for the thread btw Pete).

    And Myers article was self-serving hypocritcal rubbish. The public may forget things like the murder of Mccartney and even Paul Quinn (despite the massive publicity in the case of the former) but do people like Myers ever write about the Thomas Devlins or Michael McIlveens in the first place?

    Dubliner I can understand the point that direct linkages betweeen crimes and a party in the executive are more improtant than, say, a bar brawl, but punters like Myers and his Ilk highly publicise some murders and ignore others as it suits their political agenda, rather than out of a sense of natural justice or impartial constitutional reasons.

  • andy

    I read in Bandit Country that he was stabbed rather than shot as supposedly it looked less like a paramilitary killing (I presume a similar reason why Donaldson was killed with a shotgun rather than an AK)

  • Séamaí

    Eight years is a long time in politics folks. Times have changed, people move on.

    If you want to try and drag current elected politicians through the mud you could start with Mr Paisley and the UDA…

  • Nauseous

    I remember this, and it was a fucking diabolic way for anyone to die. It’s a shame some people can’t just come out and say that.

  • joeCanuck

    Wrong Andy and that American guy.
    The reason this has come up is that the Inquest into this brutal murder was started this week.
    There is no conspiracy.

  • Dewi

    Why is it noe the inquest is happening ? 8 years a long time.

  • Dewi

    Now !! – I got real problems with me fingers.

  • joeCanuck

    I’ve no idea, Dewi.
    It’s been 10 years since the princess died.

  • Dewi

    Yeah, but in Paris and the French legal stuff had to be done first….I’ll do some digging….

  • Dewi

    3. The longest time for completion of an inquest in Northern Ireland

    The longest time for completion of an inquest in Northern Ireland since the Coroners Service was established (and records for the whole of Northern Ireland were amalgamated) is 378.29 weeks. The death occurred on 8 June 1999 and the inquest was completed on 7 September 2006. Before an inquest was possible a health and safety investigation had to be concluded and a decision reached on whether a prosecution would be brought.

    That’s from

    Collins inquest a record.

  • joeCanuck

    That’s quite the shovel you have, Dewi.

  • Rory

    “The longest time for completion of an inquest in Northern Ireland “

    Of course, Dewi, the Special Powers Act allowed for inquests to be scrapped entirely when it was deemed for the good of the interests of NI state and I recall that two republicans were shot by the RUC in a quarry outside Derry in, I think, the 40’s and buried secretly in quicklime and inquests refused.

  • joeCanuck

    Reading the Special Powers Act many years ago, Rory, I think that was the scariest bit of all.

  • joeCanuck

    In fact, as my memory slowly comes back, based on some comment he made in an article about South Africa, I wrote a letter to Bernard Levin bringing his attention to that very provision. I naively hoped that he might comment on it in one of his regular columns in the Daily Mail(?).
    Smug bastard that he was, I didn’t even get a pro forma acknowledgement of my letter.

  • dewi

    Didn’t the SA prime minister – was it Voerstedt say the powers of the SPA dwarfed anything they had ?

  • joeCanuck

    More like he wished he could have similar powers, Dewi.

  • Aquifer

    Killing Rage, Eamonn Collin’s book, should be read by everyone. The sleekit targetting of work associates for murder by irish separatist gun gangs, dodging around the countryside in cars, showed us the sordid sectarian reality of ‘armed struggle’.

    Eamonn came to his own understanding of the difference between right and wrong, and bravely stood up for right. I don’t think any ‘truth commission’ would do as well, and thats why this patriot got an axe in the face.

    And then their are the paisleyites who detonated the first bombs of these troubles. The truth is out there, in print.

  • snakebrain

    Reading Killing Rage stripped away any remaining glamour that surrounded physical force politics in my mind. All the IRAs lines about fighting a war, and casualties caught in crossfire, and all the rest of it was left utterly indefensible by Collins’ account of life as an IRA man.

    And of course, they reinforced every word he said when they murdered him so viciously.

    Everybody should read it, so that his act of bravery is never forgotten.

  • andy

    Hi Joe
    I wasnt saying this was a conspiracy – I was aware of it the inquest. I was just saying it has no relevance to the executive at this time, despite recent events.

    On the Voerstedt thing, I think he said he would swap all SA emergency legislation for one provision of the Special Powers Act. I think he named the provision but I can’t remember which one it was.

  • Rapunsel

    Has anyone asked Gwrry and Martin if they believe republicans should cooperate with the Historical Enquiries team investigation into Collin’s murder? Answer would be instructive?

  • dazedandconfused

    Forgive my naivety,i live down south,but from a realtively outside view,is Ian Paisley simply a bully,i always had great time for him,but since he walked into coaltion hand-in-hand with Martin McGuinness,he has given up every principle he ever had,i know peace at any price is better than no peace at all,but surely he cannot bury his head in the sand,say something man,you were never too shy before,if the roles were reversed and Trimble was in power,i reckon the bould Ian would be heard all over the Island.

  • Lorcan Collins

    Yes it should of been an issue but to many cowards sat behind a tricolour