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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 22 Jun 1993

Vol. 432 No. 6

Adjournment Debate. - RUC Informer Reports.

In one of the British national newspapers last week an incredible claim was made by a young Strabane man that for five years he was a paid informer of the RUC while at the same time he was a quartermaster in the IRA. He also claimed he was involved in the killing, in some way or another, of 14 people. None of us has any way of knowing whether this man was telling the truth but we do know that he was a paid informer and that he was in the IRA. This has been confirmed by Sir Hugh Ansley, the Chief Constable of the RUC. If there is any credibility in this story we will have to accept his confession. In the words of Sir Patrick Mayhew, if anything approaching this man's claim is true it is wholly unacceptable. He claims, rightly or wrongly, that he was involved and helped in the killing of 14 people, including one Samuel McClean from Drumkeen, County Donegal, a young man I knew personally, who was in my home many times and who out of a sense of duty, came back to run the farm while his widowed mother was in hospital in Derry having a hip operation. He should have gone back to the North of Ireland to his RUC station but knew that she was leaving Altnagelving Hospital in Derry on transfer to the general hospital in Letterkenny. He availed of those couple of hours to say hello to his widowed mother who had gone through a serious operation and this gave the IRA their evil opportunity to murder him.

Among the other things which Mr. Casey claims is that he conducted meetings with other subversives in County Donegal and that he had many meetings in the town of Letterkenny. I should like to know whether these meetings took place before Samuel McClean was murdered in Drumkeen and, if so, was the Garda aware that he was involved in subversive activities and, if not, why the RUC did not inform them.

Strabane has many contacts with County Donegal. I was born and grew up in the town of Lifford. I always considered myself at home across the Border in Strabane. In those days I would have known as many people in the streets of Strabane as I would have known in any village or town in County Donegal. The same would apply in the reverse order; many people in Strabane would consider themselves almost half Donegal people. The reason I mention this is that it would be quite normal for a person in Strabane, such as Declan Casey, to visit County Donegal without being suspected. If he was a known IRA activist and a quartermaster in charge and if he was a paid RUC informer — which we now know — and they knew he was in the IRA, is it not reasonable to ask if the RUC made this information available to the Garda in Donegal?

We often hear extreme voices in the North from the other side of the two communities on this island talking about non-co-operation on the security front. They believe that on this side of the Border there is collusion between the Garda, or some members of the Garda, and the subversive organisation. Here is a factual case where Sir Patrick Mayhew, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, openly admits that Declan Casey was an active member of the IRA and Sir Hugh Ansley, Chief Constable of the RUC, admitted that for about five years he was a paid informer. If this information was not available to the Garda in Donegal, particularly in the immediate inquiries following the murder of Samuel McClean, I want to know what is happening. The Minister for Justice has to inquire from the RUC and inform the House on this particular point. I know we have to preserve security. But I want to be assured, either privately or here in the House, that the information which should have been made available to the Garda was made available to them. If it was not made available, then I protest in the strongest possible way. Samuel McClean was part of the east Donegal community, serving in the British security forces, the RUC, as good an Irishman as I have ever met. I knew him personally and if anyone told him he was not an Irishman he would be deeply offended and insulted. He was a different type of Irishman from the people who killed him, nonetheless a better Irishman than those who killed him.

I speak on behalf of the community of east Donegal, his family, whom I know personally, and everyone who stands for truth and honesty and I ask the RUC to explain, if they did not make the information available to the Garda, the reason they did not. If Mr. Casey becomes available and if there is evidence to suspect that in some way he was responsible for or contributed in any way to the murder of Samuel McClean, I will be asking the Minister to extradite that man to this jurisdiction and make him face trial.

The statements he made in the Daily Mirror are so incredible and bizarre that one wonders if it is true. Had we not heard statements from people of the stature of Sir Hugh Ansley and Sir Patrick Mayhew we would dismiss this man as an absolute lunatic, but he has named people who have lost their lives and said he was associated with them. As a quartermaster in the IRA he must have been at the planning stages of these murders and he would have known a lot more than the ordinary rookie. This is a very serious situation. A statement such as that made by him cannot go unnoticed. I am asking the Minister to clarify the position and put the record straight.

Both the Minister for Justice and the Garda authorities are aware of articles which have appeared in the British press alleging that statements have been made by a person claiming responsibility for a number of illegal activities including murder, while he was a member of the Provisional IRA. I understand that the person concerned was today before the courts in Northern Ireland on charges relating to the murder of a former member of the Northern Ireland Security Forces and possession of firearms with intent to endanger life. In the circumstances, the House will appreciate that I am constrained in what I can say here this evening. All I will say is that the Garda authorities have reported that they have appointed a senior Garda officer to investigate certain claims made in the articles in question.

As regards the murder of Constable Samuel McClean who was shot dead in the Drumkeen area of County Donegal on 2 June 1987, this crime was particularly distressing because the victim was visiting his elderly parents at the time to help out on the family farm. To date, in spite of an intensive Garda investigation, no one has been made amenable for the murder but the Garda file remains open and any developments in the case will be actively pursued.

Deputy Harte asked a number of sensitive questions which I will convey to the Minister for Justice who may wish to respond in greater detail at a later stage.