Northern Ireland news

Stakeknife families express fears following Haggarty case

Frank Mulhern's son Joseph was shot by the IRA in July 1993. Picture by Mal McCann

THE father of a man murdered by the double agent known as Stakeknife has expressed concern following the collapse of the Gary Haggarty 'supergrass' case, saying he fears they may also have been given "false hope".

The activities of the British army's highest ranking IRA mole are now the subject of a £35m inquiry called Operation Kenova, headed up by Jon Boutcher, Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police.

Among a series of murders believed to have been ordered by Stakeknife during his time as head of the IRA's 'internal security' unit was that of west Belfast man Joseph Mulhern, who was abducted and killed in 1993.

The 22-year-old was missing for 10 days before the discovery of his body in Co Tyrone.

Like the Haggarty case, which not only looked at the activities of the Mount Vernon UVF but also the role of the RUC which was handling the loyalist, the Kenova investigation is to examine both the IRA and the actions of military intelligence.

The Public Prosecution Service said on Wednesday that allegations levelled by the former UVF commander were insufficient for prosecutions of 13 suspects without corroborating evidence.

Frank Mulhern said following the decision not to proceed with criminal charges, including against two former police intelligence officers, he is now concerned the investigation into his son's killing will also end in disappointment.

Mr Mulhern, who was one of the first relatives to come forward to demand a proper investigation into the activities of Stakeknife, said the collapse of the Haggarty case has left him fearful that families are being "built up in preparation for an almighty fall".

"The English officers who are investigating our case are, I believe, approaching it with integrity," he said.

"However, in the past we've seen promises of thorough investigations only to end in disappointment for the victims and their families.

"I have always said I will fight for justice for my son no matter what obstacles are thrown at me, and that hasn't and won't change.

"But it's not just my family, it has been speculated that there may be as many as 70 killings linked either directly or indirectly to Stakeknife."

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