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Shankill victims' families need 'full disclosure'

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood. Picture by Mal McCann

REPUBLICANS were urged last night to disclose what they know about revelations an IRA commander was a police informant who told officers the Provisionals planned to plant a bomb on the Shankill Road.

Nine Protestant civilians were killed, as well as one of the IRA bombers, when the bomb exploded in Frizzell's fish shop in October 1993.

The Irish News revealed yesterday that classified documents stolen during the 2001 break-in at Castlereagh show that the Provisionals' Ardoyne leader at the time of the blast was working as an informer.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the revelations showed that the RUC was more concerned with protecting their informants than "innocent people".

"Even the suggestions in today's newspaper report that UDA leader Johnny Adair and his criminal cohorts could have been tipped off by British forces acting on intelligence supplied by an IRA mole is truly staggering," he said.

"Provisional republicans, who have known about some of these allegations since 2002, seem to have forgotten innocent lives were sacrificed as part of this macabre trail of events.

"Their priority was to identify and quietly retire someone in their ranks they knew was a British agent, instead of informing the victims' families."

He said the families need to know more details, including if the RUC failed to prevent the attack to protect their IRA informant.

Independent councillor Ruth Patterson called on unionist politicians to demand answers.

"This issue once again highlights the duplicity and rotten nature of the institutions that my former party- the DUP- continue to prop up alongside Sinn Féin, a party that allegedly used their surrogates to carry out a robbery in order to gain information on the informants within their organisation," she said.

She added: "What is more worrying- and which requires a full public enquiry- is the actions of Special Branch. If the man referred to in today's Irish News as agent 'AA' informed his handlers of the plans to plant a bomb on the Shankill Road, then why was this horrific attack allowed to take place?

"We need to know who this spy in the heart of the IRA- known for now as 'AA' - was and what terrorist crimes he carried out, ordered or was complicit in.

"This issue requires strong leadership from Unionism and it is the first big test of the new DUP leadership."

Labour Senator Maíria Cahill said the revelations shine "a light into a murky web of collusion between high ranking IRA personnel and British intelligence services".

She said the victims' families "are entitled to the fullest disclosure of the truth from the Republican movement."

"It should be noted that at a time when republicans were highlighting the murky world of loyalist collusion, they sought to conceal the truth of their own," she said.

"It is very concerning that British intelligence services, at the very least, turned a blind eye to both loyalist and republican operators who were allowed to quite literally get away with murder.

"It is inconceivable that the Sinn Féin leadership were not informed of this very murky situation. Their public calls for a truth recovery process are nothing but a sham when it is demonstrable that they have sought to conceal the truth in a number of cases."

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