Missing man accused of being informer

It has emerged that the PSNI police have at least seven contact numbers for South Armagh man Gareth O’Connor, an alleged police informer who has been missing since last May.

The IRA has said it has “no knowledge whatsoever concerning the disappearance or whereabouts of Gareth O’Connor”.

The missing man’s father claimed that his son had been involved in a financial dispute with the IRA, and has denied his son was an informer.

During a court case in Belfast involving four Tyrone men charged in connection with a rocket launcher, it was claimed that O’Connor was an informer for the PSNI (formerly RUC)

The four men were arrested at Coalisland, County Tyrone, in May 2002, when a primed rocket launcher was seized by police.

The men, who are due to stand trial next month, say that they were lured to the spot where they were arrested by O’Connor, who they insist was a PSNI agent.

It was reported that the men’s legal defence team has a document which confirms that the police had seven telephone contact numbers for O’Connor - one landline and two mobiles from the North, and four mobile numbers from the 26 Counties.

The breakaway republican 32 County Sovereignty Movement has called on everyone involved in the case to clarify their roles. “We challenge the RUC to answer why exactly they had so many contact numbers for this man,” it said in a statement. “Was he being blackmailed or coerced into working as a police agent, and was he involved in setting the four men in East Tyrone up for capture?”

“We call on those who know of Mr O’Connor’s whereabouts to contact a solicitor in order to bring closure on this whole sorry episode and end the continuing nightmare being endured by his family,” the statement said.

Republicans have accused Orde of making false claims implicating the IRA when he was aware that he was one of his force’s agents in another apparent political intervention.

Further revelations are expected to emerge when the trial starts in Belfast on May 4. The men are expected to deny the charges.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News