Ex-Garda agent: IRA would have reluctantly sanctioned McGuigan death

Kevin McGuigan, 50, was shot dead in east Belfast
Kevin McGuigan, 50, was shot dead in east Belfast

A former Garda agent inside the IRA says he is “absolutely certain” that the IRA leadership ordered the murder of Kevin McGuigan.

Between 1979 and 1988 Sean O’Callaghan was an agent for the Garda Siochana’s Special Branch inside the IRA.

The Chief Constable says that Belfast man Kevin McGuigan was murdered by individual IRA members last month – though not on the orders of the IRA leadership.

But Mr O’Callaghan disagrees.

“It is straightforward really – I don’t agree with him.

“First of all I really doubt that a Chief Constable should be making political statements like that – ‘an illegal organisation exists but I think it is just there to do good works’.

“It beggars belief that he should interfere in this.”

He added: “I am convinced that the IRA leadership was involved in okaying the murder of Kevin McGuigan. I am certain of that.

“To believe for a second that individuals connected with the IRA would go off and do something without the okay of the leadership and throw the whole southern election into disarray is crazy – they would be in more trouble than anybody else.”

And he insists it is accurate to equate Sinn Fein and the IRA at this time.

“It has to be at a very high level – it has to be. It is incomprehensible that the political leadership of the movement would not have been consulted about that [shooting of McGuigan]. It is just inconcealable when you take the southern elections and what might happen at Stormont into account.”

It would be akin, he said, to David Cameron being kept in the dark about a hugely damaging decision being taken by the UK government.

He believes that the IRA leadership – very reluctantly – felt it had to make an example of Kevin McGuigan despite the inevitable political fall-out in Belfast and Dublin; so many IRA members were being attacked in Belfast and south Armagh with apparent impunity, causing serious unrest among the rank-and-file IRA members.

One example he cites is the murder of Frank “Bap” McGreevy, a former IRA prisoner, who was killed in his Belfast flat in 2008.

However he does not believe the killings, such as that of Kevin McGuigan, will end the problem because there is “so much hatred and bitterness” among those whose loved ones were killed or knee-capped by the IRA during the Troubles.

On August 22, the Chief Constable said he believed some structures from the 1990s remain in place, and that it is thought current PIRA members were among those involved the McGuigan killing.

He added: “They are not on a war footing, they are not involved in paramilitary activity in the sense that they were during part of the conflict.”

The Sinn Fein leadership has repeatedly condemned the killing and stressed that the IRA “left the stage” from 2005 onwards.