DEPUTY First Minister Martin McGuinness authorised the IRA’s use of human bombs, an ex-Army intelligence officer has claimed.
Yesterday, the Smithwick Tribunal heard a redacted transcript of evidence given by former soldier Ian Hurst – also known as Martin Ingram – to a private hearing of the inquiry last week.
On Tuesday, when the reading of the transcript began, it emerged Mr Hurst had claimed that a “Mr McGuinness” was officer commanding of the IRA’s northern command, and also that a “Mr McGuinness” had authorised the south Armagh IRA to kidnap, torture and kill senior RUC officers Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan.
Yesterday, as the transcript continued to be read out, the tribunal heard a claim by Mr Hurst that Martin McGuinness – named fully yesterday – was involved in authorising “human bomb” attacks, and also that, contrary to Mr McGuinness’s well-known claims, he did not leave the IRA in the 1970s.
The Smithwick Tribunal was set up in 2005 to probe claims of IRA/Garda collusion in the murders of Mr Breen and Mr Buchanan on March 20, 1989. The two men were killed in an IRA ambush on the Edenappa Road, close to Jonesborough, on their way home from a cross-border police briefing.
Yesterday, Mr Hurst reiterated his claim that he believed the murders would have had to have been authorised by the IRA’s northern command because they would have needed “political cover”.
He told the tribunal that “human bombs (were) also authorised by Martin McGuinness . . . he controls northern command for the vast majority of the time”.
“McGuinness controlled northern command. He controlled it for the vast majority of the time, contrary to what he would have you believe that he left the IRA in the 1970s. That is not true. He was a member of the northern command of the Provisional IRA council responsible for controlling people like Scappaticci,” he said.
Mr Hurst has alleged that Belfast republican Freddie Scappaticci was the double agent known as Stakeknife.
On Tuesday, a Sinn Fein spokesman said Mr Hurst’s claims were “more lies from an individual with a highly dubious track record”.
Yesterday, Sinn Fein said it would not comment again on the allegations being made by Mr Hurst.
Ian Hurst was a member of the secretive Army intelligence branch called the Force Research Unit (FRU).
He left the Army in 1991 after reaching the rank of sergeant. Since then he has written various whistleblower-style newspaper articles and the book Stakeknife: Britain’s Secret Agents in Ireland.
The human, or proxy, bomb was a tactic in which the IRA forced people to drive car bombs to military targets.
In one of the most high-profile incidents, Patsy Gillespie, 42, from Londonderry, was warned to stop working as a cook at the Fort George base. He continued.
On October 24, 1990, the IRA held his family at gunpoint and forced him to drive a 1,000lb bomb to the Coshquin permanent border checkpoint on Buncrana Road.
The IRA activated the bomb while he was still in the car and Mr Gillespie, along with five soldiers, was killed.
In 2010, dissidents attempted to imitate the tactic by forcing a taxi driver to transport a bomb in his car to Palace Barracks. An elderly man walking nearby received minor injuries.