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Another Unjust Execution?


Maria McCann • Forum Magazine, Feb-Mar 2006

IRA volunteer Anthony McKiernan was shot dead in very controversial circumstances by the Provisional IRA on 18th January 1988. Subsequent to his execution the organisation released a statement claiming that McKiernan was working as a police informant.

It has now emerged that the British intelligence agent and IRA informer, Freddie Scappaticci [Stake-knife], was due to meet with Anthony McKiernan a few hours before he was actually executed.

It is well known that as head of IRA intelligence and security Scapaticci oversaw most of the interrogations and court martials of suspected informers. The latest revelation that McKiernan met with Scapaticci hours before his death has sent shockwaves through the republican community and has angered Anthony McKiernan's family, former comrades and friends.

Those who knew Anthony were not convinced that he was an informer. His comrades pointed to his longstanding commitment and dedication to the freedom struggle and were highly suspicious of the allegations made against him after his death. Now 18 years on the circumstances surrounding his death seem even more dubious. Answers are urgently required.

Within the past few weeks Ms. Sharon Murtagh, the daughter of Mr McKiernan, has challenged the PIRA to provide proof that her father was an informer. Some hope was given to the family four years ago when they were visited by members of the PIRA and promised an investigation into the circumstances surrounding their father's death.

The family are totally disgusted that this promise did not materialise and they have heard nothing since. For numerous reasons any promises made to the McKiernan family should be honoured forthwith. It now seems that British state agents colluded in and had prior knowledge of Mr McKiernan's imminent death. The question on many people's lips are: was Anthony McKiernan innocent of the charges levelled against him and was he ultimately set-up and executed on the word of a British intelligence agent inside the IRA to deflect attention away from an actual informant? Or was he executed simply because of his engineering experience and the lethal threat this posed to member of the British occupying forces?

The provisionals should provide clarification into the allegations made against Mr McKiernan. The allegations made, and the evidence that was gathered - whether genuine or not - should be made available to the family.

The McKiernan family must be made aware of the exact case against Anthony. The provisional movement cannot now say that they have full confidence in any of the information supplied by Scappaticci against any individual. Indeed a shadow hangs over any court martial and execution that Scappaticci was involved in while he was working as a MI5 agent and also as head of IRA intelligence and security.

The involvement of a British agent- IRA informant in the events surrounding this man's death casts a dark shadow over everything in this controversial and disturbing case.

In the early 1970's Anthony McKiernan was well known to republicans in the North Louth/South Armagh area. Like many young IRA volunteers during that dark period Anthony went on the run and lived in the border area for a few years. During his stay along the border he continued his role as an active IRA volunteer. Those who knew him at that time describe him as a fearless and committed IRA activist. Throughout his period on active service in the border area he participated in many major IRA actions against the British army. As an active IRA volunteer he never shirked his responsibilities in the struggle during one of the most dangerous periods in recent history. During Anthony's time on the run the PIRA leadership in Belfast collapsed due to the imprisonment of experienced volunteers.

When the call was made to those on the run to return home to fill the leadership vacuum and provide much needed experienced and maturity, Anthony McKiernan didn't need much persuasion to play his part. He returned home and continued the struggle in his native Belfast until he was captured by the British army and imprisoned in Long Kesh.

The provisional leadership in Belfast have a moral responsibility to the McKiernan family and to Anthony McKiernan's former comrades to investigate the sinister circumstances surrounding this particular case.

The family say that they were told by the PIRA that no tape recording of his confession was available, as tape recordings weren't used by the PIRA at that time.

The New Republican Forum has been reliably informed that this information is incorrect, as tape recordings of confessions during PIRA internal investigations and courtmartials were regularly used throughout that period.

At the inquest into Anthony McKiernan's death, it was reported that his body contained a massive amount of alcohol in its blood stream at the time of his death. In fact the quantity of alcohol was held to be enough to kill him. This in itself casts doubt on the reliability of any alleged confession that Anthony McKiernan may have made. Understandably the McKiernan family want to clear Anthony McKiernan's name. They are demanding to see the evidential proof that their loved one was an informer.

His comrades and friends want to verify the case against him and the wider republican family need to have proof that this was not another case of an unjust execution involving a MI5 mole inside the PIRA.

Anthony McKiernan was another victim of the British murder machine in Ireland and a genuine inquiry into his death needs to be carried out with immediate effect.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

28 February 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Gratefully Remembering
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain

Another Unjust Execution?
Maria McCann

Sinn Fein Be Warned - The Truth Will Out
Martin Ingram

Who Will Be Left?
Aoife Rivera Serrano

Irish Republican Socialists Show Solidarity with the Cuban Revolution
Willie Gallagher

Queens, New York City, Republicans decry Irish parliamentarian's inappropriate intervention on U.S. immigration bill
Patrick Hurley

Bush's Double Standard
Fr Sean Mc Manus

"Democratic Unionist Pharisees"
Dr John Coulter

A Society That Failed to Protect Its Children
Anthony McIntyre

Unreal Paradigms
Mike Marqusee

The Letters page has been updated:

Dublin Riots


Moon Man?

Independent Workers Union rejects Sunday Times allegation of involvement in Dublin riot
Noel Murphy

20 February 2006

Try separate the wood from the trees:
MI5, Sinn Fein/IRA and the intelligence war

Paul Maguire

Sinn Fein Set To Win … The Neanderthal Derby
Anthony McIntyre

21st Century Vision?
Mick Hall

The Real Betrayal?
Dr John Coulter

Cowardice on Cartoon Controversary
David Adams

Meeting Marielos
Anthony McIntyre



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