Diplomat: US will assist probe into IRA gun-running

BBC NI Spotlight reporter Mandy McAuley and Mike Logan in Florida
BBC NI Spotlight reporter Mandy McAuley and Mike Logan in Florida

A US Government official has said that her government will “co-operate fully” with a PSNI investigation into whether a senior Sinn Fein figure masterminded a post-ceasefire gun-running operation which continued until 2000.

Speaking to the News Letter during a visit to Belfast yesterday, Julieta Valls Noyes was reluctant to comment in detail about the allegations made in a BBC Spotlight programme last month.

US diplomat Julieta Valls Noyes

US diplomat Julieta Valls Noyes

However, in the first US government comment on last month’s revelations, she made clear that it would provide full assistance to the PSNI investigation.

Police opened an investigation after the broadcast of Florida gun-runner Mike Logan’s allegations that senior Belfast republican Sean ‘Spike’ Murray asked him to smuggle weapons.

Ms Noyes, who is a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, met local political parties including Sinn Fein during her visit.

The career diplomat said that she had not been able to view the Spotlight programme but was aware of its contents.

“This is obviously a very sensitive issue and an issue that involves a current law enforcement issue — I understand that the PSNI is looking into it,” she said.

“I can tell you that we take any such allegations quite seriously and that we are committed to working with the PSNI in their investigation and that we will try to get to the bottom of it. Getting into further specifics, when there is an ongoing law enforcement investigation, just wouldn’t be appropriate.”

Logan alleged that in 1995 Murray asked him to start sending weapons to the IRA; a process which only ended in 1999 after accomplices were caught and after about 400 guns had been sent to the Province, some of which were used to murder. Murray denies any link to the operation.

When asked what circumstances could have existed which would lead the US government to give immunity to an individual involved in criminal activity, Ms Noyes said that she was “not familiar with the specifics of any agreement that there may have been with him” but added: “If there was any such agreement or if there was any such arrangement made, it would have been made with a very serious justification in order to get to other elements; that’s the way those kinds of agreements work.

“But I can’t comment on the specifics of his case; I can’t even confirm what you’ve just said to me; I just don’t know.”

Logan alleged that the smuggling process had continued even as the IRA moved towards decommissioning.

Logan ‘was given immunity’

Mike Logan told Spotlight that he struck a deal with the US authorities which gave him immunity.

As part of that agreement, the self-confessed gun-runner said that he told them about Murray’s role more than a decade ago yet that was never acted on.

When asked why the US would not have passed to the police in Northern Ireland details of those allegedly orchestrating the gun-running from Belfast, Julieta Valls Noyes said: “I’m not going to say that it was or it wasn’t the case because there is this ongoing law enforcement investigation and we will co-operate fully with that investigation.”