The Irish Republican Socialist Party has said it believes that two of its members were killed as part of a wider campaign against the party by the British government and are now the target of a potential cover-up.
The party spoke out after it emerged that the British authorities have arrogated a decision on whether there should be a new inquest into the death of IRSP activist Noel Little (pictured, right).
He was shot dead with fellow IRSP member Ronnie Bunting (left) at a house in the Andersonstown area of west Belfast in October 1980.
It has always been thought that members of the British Army’s SAS were involved in the attack and that an RUC police intelligence unit had the murder house under surveillance shortly before the killings.
Mr Little’s family have information which suggests the undercover RUC team was withdrawn even though there was information to indicate an attack was imminent. The murder weapons and getaway car were also never recovered.
The two men, who were key members of the IRSP, were shot dead less than a year after Tory MP Airy Neave was killed in 1979 when a booby-trap bomb exploded under his car at the House of Commons in London. A senior figure in the Conservative Party, Mr Neave was a close ally of then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The bomb was planted by the Irish National Liberation Army, which was closely linked to the IRSP.
After Mr Neave’s death several high profile figures with links to the IRSP were shot dead or seriously injured, including Miriam Daly who had resigned from the party shortly before she was killed in June 1980. John Turnly, a Protestant who was a member of the National H-Block Committee, was killed in County Antrim in June 1980 while former IRSP member and H-Block campaigner Bernadette McAliskey was also injured in her County Tyrone home in January 1981.
Lawyer Michael Brentnall, who represents the Little family, said the deaths of Mr Neave and the two IRSP men were likely linked.
“There are compelling circumstances which indicate that the killings were either committed by the British security services or facilitated by them and these killings are connected in proximity and organisational terms to the killing of Airey Neave,” he said.
The British ‘Advocate General’ for the North of Ireland is to make the inquest decision after the case was controversially shifted away from the north’s attorney general by Direct Ruler Karen Bradley.
Mr Brentnall questioned if it was appropriate for the case to be transferred to the Advocate General, who is a Conservative MP.
Noel Little’s nephew Paul Little said his family is surprised by the latest development.
“From a family point of view there was stuff withheld from the first inquest and there needs to be a second one,” he said. “Justice not only has to be done it has to be seen to be done and there needs to be transparency.”