Allister: '˜Dublin lawyer's IRA killing claims must be investigated'
A Dublin lawyer's candid admissions about his role in IRA bombings and gun attacks during the Troubles must be investigated by the PSNI, Jim Allister has said.
In letters to both the PSNI chief constable and the secretary of state, the TUV leader said it was their “bounden duty” to investigate which of Kieran Conway’s crimes were committed within their respective jurisdictions.
During an interview with BBC’s HARDtalk current affairs programme last week, Mr Conway claimed to have taken part in fatal gun attacks, as well as having carried out “five or six” bombings.
He has already openly admitted his IRA past in an autobiographical book published in 2014.
Asked during the HARDtalk interview if he had directly killed anyone during his time in the IRA, Mr Conway said: “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.”
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Following the claims, Mr Allister wrote to Chief Constable George Hamilton and Secretary of State James Brokenshire saying the lawyer should be “brought to justice” for any identifiable crimes.
In the letter to Mr Brokenshire, he states: “I believe it is your bounden duty to have investigated which, if any, of these crimes were committed in the jurisdictions under your control, so that Mr Conway can be brought to justice for same.”
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.”
In it he said he had a senior intelligence role in the IRA at the time bombs claimed 21 lives in Birmingham in 1974.
Commenting on the Birmingham bombs, Mr Conway was asked why he hasn’t told the police everything he knows about the massacre.
He said the names of the bombers are well known, and that he had no “moral duty” to name any IRA member while they were still alive.
Mr Conway added: “The only piece of information I am withholding is the name of the second man who conducted the debrief.”
He then claimed there were “least half a dozen occasions” in which individual IRA men and their commanders could be prosecuted for their role in “war crimes”.
His legal firm in Dublin advertises itself as being a “criminal law and human rights” practice,
In a previous interview with the News Letter regarding his IRA activity, Mr Conway said: “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.”
Alliance justice spokesperson Trevor Lunn has also called on the chief constable to examine the comments he said demand “urgent investigations by the PSNI and An Garda Síochána”.
Mr Lunn added: “By openly making these claims Conway seems to believe he is safe from prosecution. If we are to move ahead and give justice to all victims, Conway must be questioned and prosecuted if there is sufficient evidence.
“The PSNI should immediately seek a European Arrest Warrant to have Conway extradited to Northern Ireland for questioning.”
Former senior PSNI officer Jim Gamble tweeted a link to the News Letter story with the comment: “If this man is not tried after these boastful admissions then why bother with legacy investigations.”
A spokesman for the Republic’s justice department said it was for the Irish courts to decide if Mr Conway could be extradited to the UK for interview.
He said: “The High Court is the executing judicial authority in Ireland in respect of the European arrest warrant and it is a matter for that court to decide whether the subject of a warrant should be surrendered.
“With regard to crimes committed in the past and in respect of which the investigation file remains open, the Garda authorities will pursue fully any credible evidence that becomes available to them.”