Northern Ireland news

Second IRA informer not included in ombudsman report into RUC officer's murder

RUC woman Colleen McMurray was killed by the IRA in Newry in 1992
Connla Young

A POLICE Ombudsman’s report into the murder of a RUC woman 30 years ago failed to reveal details of an informer believed to have been working inside the IRA at the time.

Information pointing to the existence of a second agent operating at a senior level in south Down when RUC officer Colleen McMurray was killed was referred to in a Police Ombudsman’s report into her death.

Details about the informer and the attack that claimed the life of the 34-year-old policewoman were contained in a leaked document which surfaced in 2017.

Ms McMurray died after the car she was travelling in was struck by a Mark 12 horizontal mortar fired by the IRA in the Merchants Quays area of Newry in March 1992.

Read More: Husband of murdered RUC woman believes IRA attack could have been prevented

A colleague was also seriously injured in the attack, which used remote 'flash-initiated’ technology.

The existence of the document emerged when a former official at the Police Ombudsman’s Office was arrested in Dartford in Kent by PSNI officers investigating the “suspected theft of sensitive documents from within the Office of the Police Ombudsman”.

Marion Russell and Philip McMurray talk to the press outside the Police Ombudamans office in Belfast after the report into the murder of RUC Constable Colleen McMurry. Picture by Hugh Russell

Ms McMurray’s widower Philip McMurray, himself a former policeman, and his solicitor Barry O’Donnell, of KRW Law, were later both interviewed by police in relation to the sensitive document.

Mr O’Donnell confirmed last night that earlier this year both men were informed by the Public Prosecution Service that it was not in the public interest to prosecute them.

Asked about the document last night a spokesman for the Police Ombudsman said its “public statement addressed the complaints made to her by the families of Constable Colleen McMurray and Police Officer 1 and the information in that statement was relevant to those complaints".

Earlier this week the Police Ombudsman concluded that the RUC could not have prevented the IRA attack that killed Ms McMurray.

Among the key findings was confirmation that intelligence about IRA members in the area was not passed to officers investigating the attack, including information about a man referred to only as Person A.

Person A is believed to be British agent Peter Keeley, also known as Kevin Fulton, who was a prominent member of the IRA in south Down at the time.

Keeley has previously claimed he provided information to intelligence chiefs about the IRA's new 'flashgun' technology during a meeting in London prior to the Newry attack.

He also claimed that he warned that an IRA attack was being planned.

Marion Russell, solicitor Barry O' Donnell, Philip McMurray and Ronnie Agnew talk to the press outside the Police Ombudsman's office yesterday. Picture by Hugh Russell.

Despite confirmation about Person A’s agent status, the ombudsman’s report makes no reference to the second informer operating in south Down in the 1990s.

The Irish News understands that while the secret document does not name the alleged second informer, the person is referred to by code.

It is believed an attached intelligence report refers to the second agent, who worked for Special Branch.

It is understood the document also reveals that the second informer was reporting to his handlers about the activities of Peter Keeley at the time.

Ms McMurray’s former husband Philp McMurray, and her own family, have called on the secretary of state to order a judge led statutory inquiry into her death.

The grieving relatives believe the case “involves collusion with republican terrorists and this type of collusion will not be allowed to be investigated, as investigative leads may lead to Stormont and the destabilisation of government and therefore is not in the national interests".

Mr McMurray believes there were "other agents involved as well”.

“I think the report fell well short, think it was very contradictive in its findings and if you read the report in its entirety it’s very confusing,” he said.

“Even though it is enlightening that they finally admitted that an agent was involved it goes far way short of making people responsible for Colleen’s murder.”

His solicitor Barry O’Donnell said: “The families do not have any trust in the PSNI or any other police service to investigate the murder of Constable McMurray."

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