Northern Ireland news

Police making no further comment on Shankill allegations

The aftermath of the 1993 Shankill bombing.
Staff Reporter

THE PSNI has said it will not comment further on a response by Chief Constable George Hamilton to allegations the IRA commander who planned the Shankill bombing was an informer.

The Irish News revealed on Monday that documents stolen from Castlereagh police station on St Patrick's Day 2002 contained information that exposed the leader of the IRA in Ardoyne at the time of the atrocity as a Special Branch agent with the codename AA.

The man was 'stood down' from the paramilitary group shortly after the details were decoded by IRA members.

Families of a number of victims of the 1993 bombing, which killed 10 people including two children and IRA bomber Thomas Begley, have now made complaints to the Police Ombudsman.

A Catholic man who says he was abducted by 'AA' in 2000 and interrogated before being shot has also asked the ombudsman if the attack on him could have been prevented.

Responding to the revelations at an event at Queen's University Belfast on Tuesday, Mr Hamilton said: "As I sit here today I'm 100 per cent convinced that the police service at the time had no knowledge of the Shankill bombing that could have prevented it."

In a follow-up interview with UTV, Mr Hamilton said he did not want to "prejudge the outcome" of the ombudsman's investigation.

"We have to keep in perspective there’s been a referral to the Police Ombudsman," he said.

"We don’t want to do anything that is going to traumatise families further and add to their grief and pain which will still be very real after all of these years.

"But according to the knowledge I have at the moment, there was no prior knowledge."

The Irish News asked the PSNI for clarification, including whether there was an IRA informer at the time and if there was intelligence about any possible attack in the area.

However, a spokesman said on Thursday: "We will not be making any further comment at this stage".

Meanwhile, families of some of the Shankill bomb victims met with SDLP leader Colum Eastwood on Thursday.

Among those who spoke to with the Foyla MLA was Gina Murray, mother of 13-year-old Leanne Murray who died in the atrocity.

Mr Eastwood pledged to raise some of their concerns with the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.

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