Northern Ireland

Former Sinn Féin councillor targeted by loyalists backs challenge to legacy legislation 'in the pursuit of justice'

Former Sinn Féin councillor Mick Conlon. Pic by Mal McCann
Former Sinn Féin councillor Mick Conlon. Pic by Mal McCann Former Sinn Féin councillor Mick Conlon. Pic by Mal McCann

A former Sinn Féin councillor who survived several loyalist attempts to kill him has spoken of his hope 'for justice' after backing a legal challenge to the British government’s controversial Legacy Act.

Mick Conlon served as a Sinn Féin councillor for north Belfast between 1997 – 2001.

A veteran republican, he had previously stood as an unsuccessful candidate for Sinn Féin in south Belfast in 1985.

During the Troubles Mr Conlon was told by police on 12 different occasions that his life was under threat.

He survived multiple attempts to kill him, including two separate bomb attacks in 1974, and continues to suffer from his injuries.

In 2002 loyalists left a powergel-based nail bomb outside his home and was targeted again two years later.

He also escaped gun attacks on his home along with other failed attempts to kill him.

Read More: Victims and relatives launch epic fight for truth and justice

Controversial Legacy Law to face High Court challenge

The former councillor, who previously worked with Sinn Féin north Belfast assembly member Gerry Kelly, said that information about him was also gathered by British army agent and UDA intelligence officer Brian Nelson.

“Their hope, through Brian Nelson, was to deter, kill and assassinate anybody who put their head above the parapet, thankfully I’m still alive,” he said.

He believes that his personal details discovered in a loyalist arms dump was provided by the security forces and says he was threatened with death several times while being questioned in Castlereagh.

He believes that Sinn Féin party members were deliberately targeted.

“There was a picture taken in 1985 of (Sinn Féin) candidates, of those 11 or 12 people, half of them were shot,” he said.

“It was a policy to stop the rise of Sinn Féin and it carried on through the 80s and early 90s.”

After spending a year in the Royal Navy, he left after Bloody Sunday in 1972 after receiving threats that he would be thrown overboard.

“I went to school, and everybody was trying to get a job, so I joined the Royal Navy,” he said.

“A friend of mine called it economic conscription.”

Mr Conlon believes that he was regarded as a “Lundy” by loyalists because he was an ex-serviceman.

Solicitor Pat Finucane was murdered in 1989
Solicitor Pat Finucane was murdered in 1989 Solicitor Pat Finucane was murdered in 1989

On one occasion he says RUC officers showed him a picture of his solicitor Pat Finucane, who was shot multiple times by a UDA murder squad in 1989.

“They said that if we can do this to your lawyer, we can do this to you,” he said.

Mr Conlon revealed that threats were also made to him against two other prominent lawyers, which he later made them aware of.

The former councillor said he backs the ongoing High Court challenge against the contentious Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act, which passed into law in September.

It provides immunity in some circumstances along with ending civil cases and inquests that have not reached their findings stage by next May.

Under the new legislation, all Troubles investigations will transfer to the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR).

“We are going to fight this, he said.

“I am determined to fight for justice for everybody.

“I was an elected representative and they were confident enough to try to kill an elected representative in Belfast City Council.

“This legacy bill wipes the board clean for them, under Article Two of the European Convention on Human Rights, (which protects the right to life), I think I am entitled to life, especially as an elected representative.”