The IRA leadership backed McGuigan murder: Moloney

Police at Comber Court in the Short Strand where Kevin McGuigan was killed
Police at Comber Court in the Short Strand where Kevin McGuigan was killed

The author of an acclaimed book on the Provisional IRA has said he is has no doubt that the organisation’s leadership ordered the murder of Belfast man Kevin McGuigan.

Journalist Ed Moloney, who wrote the best-selling ‘A Secret History of the IRA’ was speaking to the News Letter as the political ramifications of the murder caused political earthquakes at Stormont,

The Chief Constable has said that the IRA still exists in a skeleton form – but for exclusively peaceful means – and that although individual IRA members were suspected of involvement in the murder of Mr McGuigan, police do not believe that the shooting was sanctioned by the leadership of the organisation.

Ex-IRA man Mr McGuigan was shot in Belfast last month, reportedly in revenge for his alleged shooting of another former IRA man, Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison in Belfast in May.

But Mr Moloney – who poured decades of his journalistic experience into his respected volume – firmly rejected the Chief Constable’s assessment that the IRA leadership was not behind Mr McGuigan’s murder.

Asked what rationale he had for coming to the opposite conclusion, he told the News Letter: “Because nothing happens related to that organisation without the full knowledge and approval of its leadership, political and military. [It’s] very simple really.

“They’re control freaks. It is how they have survived and prospered.”

When he first published ‘A Secret History of the IRA’, he said he was not afraid of the IRA leadership targeting him, but was concerned about an individual republican shooting him in revenge.

But he insisted this did not support the argument that freelance IRA members might have killed Mr McGuigan.

There were a number of important differences between himself and Mr McGuigan, he said, the first one being that he [Mr Moloney] “was never accused of murdering a senior IRA man to begin with”.

In his case the IRA had no reason to fear that leaving him alone could embolden more violent attacks against its members, he said.

He added Kevin McGuigan was “a former IRA man and a working class Catholic” whereas he is “a prominent journalist and very well known”.

“No matter how much my book had irritated the senior Sinn Fein and IRA cadres they would never be so stupid as to even think about taking me out, or indeed any journalist.

“It’d be a PR disaster for them which would alienate – I hope – the entire media world in Ireland and elsewhere.

“In the case of McGuigan they had probably calculated that given the current moribund state of journalism in Ireland – where fear of upsetting the peace process has paralysed so many of my former colleagues – that they probably would get away with it. They miscalculated.

“In my case, I was more concerned about a drunken supporter or fellow traveller spotting me in a bar than an IRA hit team.”

Former agents inside the IRA, Martin McGartland and Sean O’Callaghan, both told the News Letter that individual IRA men would not have dared kill Mr McGuigan without leadership orders.

Mr O’Callaghan said the leadership would have ordered the killing “very reluctantly” because of grassroots anger about rising revenge attacks on them by those the IRA had crossed during the Troubles.