Special Branch accused in civilian death

joannereilly.jpg

The mother of a County Down woman who died when an undercover British agent allegedly became involved in an IRA attack is taking a case against the PSNI police chief and the British Ministry of Defence.

In a case which has echoes with other British spy projects directed against IRA groups, state involvement is alleged in the death of Joanne Reilly (pictured). The 20-year-old died when telephoned IRA bomb warnings failed to clear the area around Warrenpoint RUC barracks in April 1989. She had been working in a builders’ merchant nearby when a device detonated close to the station.

In a letter to the PSNI, the KRW law firm referred to claims made about the killing in a book written by former British spy Peter Keeley, who is known by the alias Kevin Fulton.

He wrote that the bomb included a new type of ‘micro-switch’ and that the device had been made in south Armagh before being transported to its target.

In correspondence to the PSNI (formerly RUC) it is also alleged the device was waved through a number of Crown Force checkpoints in the south Armagh and Newry areas while on its way to Warrenpoint, and that this took place under the instruction of RUC Special Branch (intelligence).

Four telephone warnings were made 30 minutes before the attack was due to take place. However, no attempt was made by the Crown Forces to clear the area, resulting in the tragic and avoidable death of Ms Reilly.

The agent in question is also accused of involvement in other incidents, including the killing of IRA man Colum Marks, shot dead by the RUC in controversial circumstances in 1991.

In a statement, lawyer Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, said: “The Reilly family have been denied a proper inquest and anything resembling a proper police investigation into their daughters murder.”

Mr Winters said the case of Ms Reilly fits in with what he described as a pattern of “collusion”.

“Joanne Reilly was meant to be a forgotten statistic - that is particularly so if viewed in isolation as just another random incident - in this case the accidental detonation of a device meant for others,” she said.

“However her parents are reluctant litigants in a case that fits into a much wider tapestry of collusion at this time in the conflict.”

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