Dublin lawyer: I carried out a mere six or so IRA bombings

Kieran Conway pictured during the BBC HARDTalk interview

Kieran Conway pictured during the BBC HARDTalk interview

A Dublin lawyer has talked candidly about his involvement in shootings, bombings, and armed robberies during the height of the Troubles in an in-depth TV interview.

Kieran Conway, whose firm in central Dublin advertises itself as being a “criminal law and human rights” practice, had already openly admitted his IRA past in an autobiographical book, published in 2014.

He said he had a senior intelligence role in the IRA at the time bombs claimed 21 lives in Birmingham in 1974.

Appearing this week on HARDtalk, a BBC current affairs interview programme, presenter Stephen Sackur asked Mr Conway if he had directly killed anyone during his time in the IRA.

He responded: “British soldiers did die when I was present and firing at them but I can’t be sure it was my bullet which caught them.”

Mr Conway also admitted to being an “enthusiastic” participant in a number of armed robberies in England to raise funds for the organisation, as well as planting bombs.

He added: “I only participated in commercial bombings; not very many, maybe a half dozen maximum.

“I did a lot more shooting, an awful lot more. Maybe about 100 times.

“British soldiers were killed on a number of occasions. Not very many, maybe five or six.”

Regarding the Birmingham bombs, Mr Conway was asked why he had never fully cooperated with police by telling them everything he knows about the massacre.

The former IRA man replied: “The names of the bombers are well known. The only piece of information I am withholding is the name of the second man who conducted the debrief.”

When quizzed why he would not provide that information to police, Mr Conway replied: “I will never finger an IRA man. I don’t accept any moral duty in relation to naming that man.

“If he dies before I die then at that stage I will be prepared to reveal his name.”

Mr Conway then claimed there were “least half a dozen occasions” in which individual IRA men and their commanders could be prosecuted for war crimes.

A stunned Mr Sackur then pressed Mr Conway on this point, stating: “You believe you know things which could be part of a prosecution for war crimes of individual members of the IRA and you will not disclose that information?”

Mr Conway responded: “That’s correct, I will never name another living IRA man.

“If I end up before the High Court in some sort of proceedings and am cited for contempt of court then I will go to prison rather than name any living IRA man.”

Speaking of his IRA exploits previously, Mr Conway has told the News Letter: “In the south I am safe as they have indicated they have no interest down here in historic IRA prosecutions, so I am okay here.”

But John McBurney, a former member of the Fresh Start panel on paramilitary activity, said the chief constable must investigate the confessions.

“The Chief Constable George Hamilton and Mark Hamilton, head of the PSNI Legacy Unit, must look into these confessions,” he said.

“He appears to have admitted to attempted murder if not more. These are powerful admissions by him regarding his own actions.”

He noted that Mr Conway had apparently admitted his involvement in 100 shootings, the murder of soldiers on six different occasions, half a dozen bombings, armed robberies and around 100 gun attacks.

Even being present when soldiers were killed could at minimum lead to charges of “joint enterprise” aside from the possibility of murder charges, he said.

In light of the amount of money about to be spent investigating the state’s role in 50 murders involving army agent Stakeknife, he said, the PSNI must also expend the appropriate resources investigating Mr Conway’s confessions to a “serious” BBC journalist, who was obviously “shocked” at what he was hearing.

Mr McBurney also expressed concern at the wider political ramifications if investigations into the past are seen to be one-sided.

“There has to be a balance moving forward,” he added.

The News Letter was unable to reach the Garda for comment.