SINN Fein have placed a number of convicted or suspected IRA terrorists into significant positions of power, the News Letter can reveal after conducting a survey of the republican party’s representatives.
The Stormont team alone contains: Gerry Kelly who received two life sentences for bombing the Old Bailey and Scotland Yard – he also shot a prison officer in the head during a mass break-out from the Maze Prison in 1983; Jennifer McCann who served 20 years for the killing of a police officer; Sean Lynch who is a former commander of the IRA in the Maze who was captured by the SAS in 1986 whilst trying to blow up members of the security forces in Fermanagh; Fra McCann who served time for firearms offences, and Alex Maskey who was interned twice in the 1970s on suspicion of IRA activities.
West Tyrone MP and MLA Pat Doherty was named as a member of the IRA’s ruling council in the House of Commons by David Burnside and also by IRA supergrass Sean O’Callaghan. Mr Doherty has never been convicted of an offence.
His brother, Hugh, was part of the IRA’s infamous Balcombe Street Gang which held a terrified couple in London hostage for six days after being cornered by police.
Two of Sinn Fein’s latest batch of ministers are also familiar with prison cells. Culture minister Caral Ni Chulin was sentenced to eight years in prison in 1989 on explosives charges, while junior minister Martina Anderson spent 13 years in prison also on explosives charges, and deputy first minister Martin McGuinness openly admits to having been a member of the IRA. Ms Ni Chuilin’s special adviser Mary McArdle has hit the headlines recently for her role in Mary Travers’ killing, while Jackie ‘Teapot’ McMullan who advised former education minister Caitriona Ruane is thought to also be advising new minister John O’Dowd.
Mr McMullan was arrested in 1976 in possession of a revolver following a gun attack on the RUC. He received a life sentence for attempted murder of police officers and took part in the 1981 hunger strike while serving at the Maze.
Two of the four Sinn Fein representatives on the policing board have criminal convictions while another admitted being a member of the IRA during the Saville Inquiry.
Mr Kelly is a convicted bomber, Pat Sheehan was sentenced to 15 years for causing an explosion in the centre of Belfast, Gearoid O’Hara is a self-confessed IRA man.
Meanwhile, last Saturday the News Letter revealed that two killers – including one who was only recently elected as a councillor – were hand-picked by Sinn Fein to become mayors.
Sean McGlinchey, brother of INLA leader Dominic and uncle of Declan who is currently being held on suspicion of the murder of two soldiers at Massereene army barracks, served 18 years in jail for his part in a car bomb attack which killed six people in Coleraine in 1973. He is now mayor of Limavady.
Bellaghy man Ian Milne was sentenced to life for the murder of a UDR man. He is now chairman of Magherafelt council.