Probe into IRA man’s boasts ‘will test policing resolve’

Kieran Conway, ex-IRA director of intelligence, pictured on BBC HARDTALK in October
Kieran Conway, ex-IRA director of intelligence, pictured on BBC HARDTALK in October

The PSNI investigation into confessions of a former senior IRA officer will be “a test” of resolve at a time when authorities seem “preoccupied” with pursuing retired security force personnel, it is claimed.

Kieran Conway, now a Dublin solicitor, was the IRA’s director of intelligence in the 1970s.

Earlier this year he caused outrage when gave a series of BBC interviews in which he admitted involvement in the shooting of British soldiers as well as a series of armed robberies in England and half-a-dozen commercial bomb attacks.

TUV leader Jim Allister and UUP justice spokesman Doug Beattie MLA both wrote to the Chief Constable George Hamilton to press for an investigation.

The PSNI has now replied, confirming that officers from the Legacy Investigations Branch (LIB) have been examining his book and subsequent BBC interviews.

“Mr Conway referred to his general involvement in terrorist offences and membership of the Provisional IRA,” the PSNI wrote. “He has sought to avoid identifying his role in specific incidents.”

The LIB is seeking to corroborate specifics of Mr Conway’s claims.

“It is not immediately clear from the interview whether the offences to which Mr Conway refers were committed in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. All reasonable inquiries will be explored and where appropriate collaboration with other law enforcement agencies will be undertaken.”

Reflecting on the PSNI response, Mr Allister told the News Letter: “At a time when the powers that be seem preoccupied with pursuing retired security force personnel, this case is itself a test of policing and prosecuting resolve.”

He said that Mr Conway “openly bragged” of terrorism and “seeks notoriety in withholding information”.

He added: “The response from the PSNI makes reassuring noises about such investigations, but it is time to get on with it and turn words into actions.”

Mr Beattie said the PSNI will look at his membership of the IRA, a criminal offence.

“I am however slightly confused as to some of the language used in the response, where the police seem unclear if the offences of murder, assisting murder or attempted murder were committed in the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, given that British soldiers only operated in this jurisdiction,” he said.

Mr Conway’s comments about murder were “sickening” and he will be asking the PSNI for an update, he said.