Two men convicted of a controversial abduction by the Provisional IRA have said the PSNI have since tried to set them up using a paid informer.
Gerard McCrory and Tommy Tolan were both released last winter after serving their sentence for the abduction of so-called ‘dissident’ Bobby Tohill. Both men have said they are no longer connected to any organisation.
The incident, in which Tohill was beaten in a Belfast city centre bar before being bundled into a van in February 2004, put pressure on the peace process and generated considerable tension within the republican community in Belfast.
Another man involved in the incident, Harry Fitzsimmons, was sentenced in Belfast last week following his extradition north of the border. Another remains on the run.
Last week an informer revealed he had been paid fifty pounds cash by the PSNI and promised thousands more if he planted a gun in a neighbour’s car and ammunition in a garden shed belonging to another neighbour. It has now emerged that Tolan and McCrory were the two targets of the apparent frame-up.
The agent involved, a vulnerable 19-year-old, came forward to the media after speaking to the IRA faction known as Oglaigh na hEireann about his involvement with the PSNI.
Tolan and McCrory have said that PSNI ‘dirty tricks’ was involved and the frame-up attempt had followed considerable PSNI harassment since their release from prison.
McCrory said he was unable to leave his home because of the PSNI pressure.
“l’ve been stopped and searched under section 44 numerous times,” McCrory said.
“It’s former RUC men who have been stopping me and a few times have told me that they’ll have me back in jail so I’ve no doubt that there are still dirty tricks at play here.
“Myself and Gerard are not connected to any organisation. We’re done with that. We’ve served our time and just want to get on with our lives,” Tolan said.
“We have certainly no connection to any dissident republican group.
“I’m at further education and want to try and get my boxing career back off the ground. I’ve a wife and three children and that’s all I’m interested in - rebuilding my life.
~We were both being set up in an attempt to get us put back in prison. I’ve no doubt about that.”
Tolan said that given the upcoming Westminster election, the motivations for implicating himself and his former comrade should be questioned.
“You have to ask what kind of dirty tricks are being played here.” he said.
“Both myself and Gerard went to jail for what would be seen as IRA activity.
“Coming so close to the election was this an attempt to do political damage to Sinn Fein?
“you could wreck your head all day thinking about what was going on but the bottom line is that recruiting this young lad was wrong and it’s right it has been exposed.
“I would ask everyone in our community not to judge or ostracise that young lad.
“He’s a victim in this sorry mess and I would hope by coming forward any other young people in a similar position would come forward and get help.”