Northern Ireland news

MI5 link to Cappagh murders revealed

The families of some of those killed at Cappagh have received a long-awaited draft Historical EnquiriesTeam report into the death of Dwayne O'Donnell. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Connla Young

THE British Army and RUC carried out a joint investigation into MI5 after concerns were raised about possible collusion with loyalists in east Tyrone following the murders of four men almost 30 years ago.

Details of the review emerged as it was confirmed that UDR members were suspected of involvement in the murder of three IRA men and a civilian 29 years ago on Tuesday.

Fresh information about the gun attack at Boyle’s Bar in Cappagh, Co Tyrone, is contained in a draft Historical Enquiries Team (HET) report recently given to families by the PSNI.

The document also reveals that two separate reviews into the murders have been carried out - including one focusing on 'the security service', which is another name for MI5.

Republicans Malcolm Nugent (20), Dwayne O’Donnell (17) and John Quinn (23) were shot dead along with civilian Thomas Armstrong (52) at Boyle’s Bar in Cappagh on March 3, 1991.

The attack was later claimed by the UVF.

A memorial in Cappagh for John Quinn, Thomas Armstrong, Malcolm Nugent and Dwayne O'Donnell.

The HET report, which was focused on the murder of Dwayne O’Donnell, reveals that in December 1991 three part-time members of the UDR were among four suspects arrested.

A fourth man, a relative of one of the UDR men, was also detained.

The report says that intelligence was later received naming the three men as being responsible for Mr O’Donnell’s murder.

It also claims the UDR men “were also named as responsible for other murders”.

All those arrested were later released without charge.

The Irish News revealed last year how in 2012 the now-defunct HET provided relatives of the victims with the name of a UDR member suspected of involvement in the attack.

While nationalists have long believed there was UDR involvement, the release of the report is the first time the suspected role of British soldiers has been officially acknowledged.

It has also emerged that two reviews into the murders were carried out in 1991 and 2002.

In 1991 a joint British army and RUC team examined intelligence relating to several murders and attempted murders “as a result of raised concerns of security service collusion in east Tyrone”.

The joint report was prepared by a detective sergeant and discussed by RUC senior management in May 1991 “where a number of decisions and recommendations were made”.

The HET report adds that this ultimately led to the arrests of the UDR men seven months later.

No details have been given about a second review carried out in 2002.

It further reveals that "two members of the Portadown UVF" were arrested on the night of the attack.

The pair were detained after they were stopped and searched at a checkpoint while travelling along Moy Road, from Portadown. They were later released.

It has previously been reported that the then UVF commander Billy Wright was one of two men who were arrested that night.

Dwayne O’Donnell’s mother Briege last night said her family had "always suspected collusion" in the murders.

Malcolm Nugent’s sister Siobhan Nugent said: “Despite the passing of 29 years we remain determined to establish the truth of what happened that night.”

Solicitor Gavin Booth, of Phoenix Law, welcomed the decision to hand over the report.

He said he believed it pointed to "a high level of collusion" in the case between "members of the UDR, loyalist paramilitaries and unknown others".

Relatives for Justice caseworker Paul Butler, who accompanied the families, to meetings, said: "It was disclosed to us at the time that that prime suspects were members of the UDR."

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