Another Unjust Execution?
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
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
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
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
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
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