The son of an Irish army soldier murdered by the IRA 35 years ago says attempts by the republican movement to deny their role in the killing have become “intolerable”.
David Kelly’s 36-year-old father, Private Patrick Kelly, was gunned down along with trainee Garda Gary Sheehan, 23, in an isolated woodland in Co Leitrim in December 1983 as they attempted to rescue a businessman who had been kidnapped by members of an IRA unit three weeks earlier.
Earlier this week, Cork County councillor Kieran McCarthy – a former Irish army soldier turned IRA terrorist – claimed Pte Kelly and Garda Sheehan had been killed by the Irish army in a so-called ‘friendly fire’ incident.
That claim, and others such as Garda Síochána Special Branch officers having shot the two men, are claims David Kelly has heard a lot over the years.
Branding them “nonsense”, the 44-year-old Co Westmeath man says he is sick of the IRA trying to deny culpability.
He says the evidence in the case points to four IRA men who had escaped from the Maze Prison a few months earlier being responsible. The men evaded capture and were not brought to justice.
Mr Kelly, who is due to meet with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris next month to discuss the investigation into the murders, condemned the attempts of the republican movement to “re-write history” and “distort the facts”.
Accusing them of “trying to brainwash people”, he said: “The provisional republican movement have spread malicious rumours about the murders since the day it happened. Every time the murders are raised, supporters of the IRA try to deflect attention away from the IRA’s role in the murders by putting doubt in the general public’s minds by claiming it is uncertain what actually happened in Derrada Wood, leading on to claiming it was a ‘friendly fire’ incident.
“It was Provo propaganda in the battle for the Irish public’s hearts and minds and is still said to this day by people such as Cllr McCarthy in an attempt to re-write history.”
Mr Kelly said his father and Garda Sheehan were “shot down in cold blood without warning” and accused those who spread lies about the murders of engaging in “psychological terrorism”.