Doug Beattie urges PSNI to seize and inspect weapons from exhibition for IRA men killed by SAS, Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew

A terror victims group has expressed concern that the 30th anniversary of the killing of two IRA members is to be celebrated with an exhibition of weapons.  
The weapons exhibition displayed on Youtube in memory of Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew.The weapons exhibition displayed on Youtube in memory of Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew.
The weapons exhibition displayed on Youtube in memory of Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew.

Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew were killed by an SAS unit at a farm shed near Loughgall on October 9, 1990. Three AK-47s rifles were recovered nearby. 

According to Troubles reference work Lost Lives, McCaughey had been injured earlier that year in a shoot out with soldiers in Cappagh, in which the IRA claimed two soldiers had been killed. He was disqualified from his seat as a Sinn Fein councillor at Dungannon District Council due to non-attendance, reportedly because he was receiving treatment for his wounds in the Republic of Ireland.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Dessie Grew was wanted for questioning about the murder of an RAF corporal in Germany and his six-month-old daughter. He was reported to have been jailed three times in the Republic and Northern Ireland from the 1970s to 1980 on terror charges.

Although both men were reportedly armed neither fired any shots, provoking legal challenges that they could have been arrested. 

Victims group Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) expressed concern that the anniversary of their murder might result in a commemoration, including the display of what appeared to be AK-47s and other weapons in a museum type display. While it is likely the weapons are replicas or deactivated, UHRW said it had called on the PSNI to “seize” them and check their legitimacy in the same commemorations in 2010 and 2011 but that their requests were “simply ignored”.

UHRW Advocacy Worker Jonathan Larner said the display contains at least 15 apparent weapons ranging from assault rifles to pistols, and has been displayed previously on Youtube.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Every time these weapons are put on show they cause IRA victims great distress,” he said. “Such exhibitions should not take place in a democratic society and the organisers must be prevented from doing this”.  

UUP Justice Spokesman Doug Beattie said: “It is clear that the police should have confiscated these weapons when they were first reported as being on display. The fact that they did not is a mystery and therefore a number of questions need to be asked.” He said it was imperative that the PSNI investigated the nature of the weapons to see if any terror-related laws were being broken.

He noted that he had also opposed weapons used by loyalist terrorists for murder being put on display in the Imperial War Museum, and said he would be writing to the Chief Constable to press for action on the Tyrone display.

Invited to respond to Mr Larner and Mr Beattie, a PSNI spokesman said: “Should police become aware of any intention to display weaponry in any capacity ahead of the event, appropriate enquiries will be made.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

On Friday morning the News Letter invited the organisers to comment but no response was forthcoming.

However by Friday afternoon it posted a message on Facebook saying a commemoration planned for tomorrow, Sunday October 11, was being cancelled due to Covid-19 “for the health and safety of our people”.

A message from the Editor:

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Alistair Bushe