Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has accused the Dublin government under Charles Haughey of providing the information that led to the SAS ambush of three IRA Volunteers in Gibraltar 20 years ago.

Mr Adams made the claim on Wednesday when announcing a series of events to mark the deaths of the three IRA Volunteers and other killings over an infamous week in March 1988.

Three members of an IRA Active Service Unit -- Mairead Farrell, Sean Savage and Danny McCann -- were shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar in March 1988 in a notorious shoot-to-kill incident.

Later in the week, unionist paramilitary Michael Stone killed three nationalist mourners in Milltown Cemetery during a funeral for one of the dead. At the subsequent funeral, two British Army corporals, who appeared to be spying on the funeral cortege, were captured and executed by the IRA.

The cold-blooded Gibraltar killings which started the cycle of violence became the subject of an extraordinary British propoganda campaign, with false claims that the three victims were armed or were at the point of detonating an explosion.

A television documentary, ‘Death on the Rock’ by Thames Television, helped to reveal the truth of the killings but was said to have infuriated the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. Thames Television later lost its broadcasting franchise in a move which has been linked to Thatcher’s anger over the documentary.

“It is my strong view that the killings in Gibraltar were authorised by Margaret Thatcher,” said Mr Adams on Wednesday.

“And it is my strong view that the Irish government of the day passed information to the authorities about the movements of those killed.

“I cannot prove that but that is my conviction.”

Families of those killed in Gibraltar and at Milltown Cemetery, as well as relatives of IRA Volunteer Kevin McCracken who was also killed that week, gathered at the former RUC/British army base in Andersonstown in west Belfast on Tuesday.

Adams welcomed the families of those who died to the launch of a programme of events to mark the 20th Anniversary of that period.

“All of us live very busy lives but there are things which remain with us in our memories and I remember when the rumours started around the West of the city that some people had been killed in Gibraltar and then rumours about who they would be and eventually the names came out”, Adams said.

The Sinn Féin President also said that he remembered visiting the families of Sean, Mairead and Dan, and then “the long work to get the remains home began, and inbetween times Kevin McCracken was killed in Turf Lodge and I remember when we were talking to the families earlier on it struck me that people must be sensitive as the emotions do come flooding back.

“I remember that the families wanted the lids of the coffins opened and myself, Martin Mc Guinness and others did that. It was a very very sad and awful time.”

Mr Adams said he also wanted to remember the two British Army corporals who died.

“Because we genuinely do not believe of any hierarchy of victimhood we are mindful that those two men had families, and they also will be grieving and remembering what happened on that day. And the truth of that has yet to materialise,” he said.


An Assembly commission is currently deciding whether the Mairead Farrell commemoration should take place in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings.

The DUP have strongly opposed Sinn Féin’s plan to hold a Mairead Farrell commemoration as as part of International Women’s Day in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings. The DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson, who this week replaced Ian Paisley Jr as Junior Minister in the Department of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister, has also scheduled an event to “celebrate” the SAS killings.

Mr Adams said that the commemoration to Mairead Farrell should go ahead.

“Mairead was a brave, lovely and wonderful Irishwoman. There was no intention to offend anyone by this event and certainly no intention to see Mairead’s good name embroiled in a row . . .,” he said.

“It is a sense of grave insensitivity that a counter event to commemorate the work of the SAS has been mooted [by DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson]. We all know the role of the SAS. I think we must all calm down around this,” added Mr Adams.

“This isn’t a matter of living only in the past. This is a matter of making sure the past does not repeat itself and I think that is the very, very least we owe to families of all of the people who died in that dreadful week 20 years ago in this district.”

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© 2008 Irish Republican News