Northern Ireland news

Former Irish justice minister Charlie Flanagan writes to RTÉ about Unquiet Graves

Unquiet Graves focused on the activities of the Glenanne Gang
Connla Young

THE maker of an acclaimed film about a gang of loyalist killers has challenged criticism of the documentary by former Irish justice minister Charlie Flanagan.

Sean Murray spoke out after it emerged that Mr Flanagan has written to RTÉ after the broadcaster screened the documentary ‘Unquiet Graves' last month.

The film focuses on the activities of the Glenanne Gang, which involved members of the RUC, UDR and UVF and is believed to have murdered around 120 people in the 1970s.

The gang was also involved in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974.

Contributors to the documentary, which was narrated by Belfast-born actor Stephen Rae, include former RUC officer John Weir.

The former policeman gave evidence to the 2003 Barron Report - which examined the Dublin and Monaghan bombings that claimed the lives of 33 people and an unborn child.

Since the documentary was screened last month critics have questioned the testimony of some participants and how the film was funded.

Speaking on Newstalk yesterday Mr Flanagan said he had written to the RTÉ's Director of Programming outlining his concerns.

Mr Flanagan raised the evidence of Mr Weir.

“But it seemed to me that the essence of the programme was based on the testimony, an affidavit, of a guy called John Weir who himself was a convicted murderer, a criminal, who had motives that to my mind were somewhat dubious,” he said.

In his letter to RTÉ Mr Flanagan claimed he raised questions about the balance of the film, asked what background checks were carried out and addressed the issue of cost.

Mr Murray last night questioned whether Mr Flanagan had watched the documentary.

“Mr Flanagan appears not to have viewed the film - although he features in it himself during an attendance at a Dublin/Monaghan bombings commemoration,” he said.

“If he had done, he would have seen testimony from, amongst others, former London Metropolitan Detective Steve Morris of the Historical Enquiries Team.

“Strangely, Mr Flanagan did not mention the Dublin/Monaghan bombings although they resulted in the greatest single loss of life, 34 dead including an unborn full-term baby, in any one day during the conflict in the jurisdiction in which he is a public representative.”

Mr Murray said funds for the film were privately raised.

“Some funds were raised also by private, voluntary donations from the US, Britain and Ireland.

“Not a penny of the funding came from any political source or any political party anywhere.”

Alan Brecknell, whose father Trevor was shot dead by members of the Glenanne Gang in Silverbridge, south Armagh, in 1975 said Mr Flanagan has not considered the experience of victims.

“It is hurtful in the extreme that Mr Flanagan's criticism fails to take into account the suffering and pain of the bereaved families,” he said.

“His “annoyance” and “anxiety” pales into insignificance beside the trauma, agony and anger of those bereaved by the Glenanne Gang - whose experience features nowhere in his letter or in his interview with Newstalk.”

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