Seamus Grew and Roddy Carroll were killed 40 years ago this week as the car they were driving was fired on by the RUC at Armagh in what has become known as ‘The Mullacreevie Park Massacre’.
Both were Volunteers of the Irish National Liberation Army. Roddy Carroll (pictured, right) was only 21 but still an experienced Volunteer, claimed by the RUC themselves to be the INLA’s top Volunteer in Armagh. Seamus Grew (pictured, left) was a 31-year-old socialist from a prominent Irish Republican family in Armagh, who had just two months earlier survived an assassination attempt by loyalist gunmen.
Despite both men being totally unarmed, Roddy Carroll was shot from a distance of six feet while Seamus Grew was shot dead from a distance of two feet. Both died at the hands of the same RUC gunman, John Robinson.
In court, Robinson claimed he had expected to find INLA Commander Dominic McGlinchey in the car that the two men were travelling in, and that the two Volunteers had failed to stop at a checkpoint.
In fact, the RUC were fully aware that McGlinchey was not, and could not have been, in the vehicle. In fact, the surveillance wing of the RUC, E4A, had been trailing the men on both sides of the Irish border.
Secondly, Vols. Grew and Carroll had not smashed through a RUC checkpoint. A plain-clothes British Army unit had just crashed into an RUC vehicle and amid the confusion, Grew and Carroll and were ignored and simply drove past.
However, an RUC E4A man who had been trailing the INLA men stopped at the checkpoint, collected Robinson, and continued the pursuit.
In a likely war crime, a false radio call was then made which claimed that Grew and Carroll had failed to stop at a checkpoint. This was the excuse to carry out the killings.
It also emerged that Robinson, who claimed in court he believed his life to be in danger, had completely emptied his gun’s magazine, reloaded, and then walked around the front of the vehicle to finish off Vol. Grew at point blank range as he exited from the passenger seat side.
During the trial, it was also revealed that, after the killing of the two men, Robinson was debriefed and provided with a cover story by RUC Special Branch prior to being interviewed by those supposedly investigating the killings. The RUC Special Branch also used the Official Secrets Act to maintain the cover-up.
Robinson admitted to lying, fabricating evidence and altering notes, but was acquitted at the Crown Court. The scandal forced the then RUC Chief, Jack Harmon, to ask an outside force to investigate the incident and related shoot-to-kill ambushes. The report years later by John Stalker, as part of his investigation into the shoot-to-kill policy in the north of Ireland, was in turn suppressed.
Until now, no inquest into the murders has been completed. Indeed, in 1984 the first appointed Coroner Gerry Curran resigned due to “grave irregularities” in the case. Each subsequent attempt at commencing coronial proceedings has been met with delay tactics by the state.
At the time, the Manchester Guardian Weekly described those responsible for the deaths as “no different from the death-squads operating in South America”.