Peter Keeley was a British soldier planted within the Provisional IRA in South Down. Now, almost 30 people who say his actions or inactions have caused them harm are suing him and his Crown Force bosses.
The double-agent wrote a book in which he details his involvement in multiple incidents, boasting about how he infiltrated the organisation, worked his way up, and tipped off his handlers to save some lives.
Keeley (pictured, right) wrote a book about his side of the story. He initially called it Unsung Hero, but then republished it with the new title, Double Agent.
Tales of his victim’s suffering, hurt, loss and anger are among those told in a new ITV documentary, ‘Up Close: Protected Species’.
Human rights lawyer Kevin Winters of KRW Law said there are allegations concerning Keeley in 30 cases. He explained how the civil action started with one case in particular.
“All of this litigation started about 12, 13 years ago in the case of Eoin Morley. Eoin (pictured, left) was a 23-year-old republican who was shot dead by the IRA. It is alleged that Peter Keeley was part of a four man unit which took part in the killing.
“And indeed he writes about it in his own book, Unsung Hero, and in which he explains his role.
“I have no doubt that, like a lot of things in his book he has downsized his role in a lot of incidents, including the killing of Eoin Morley and at times I think that the book would be very much self-serving”, Mr Winters said.
“He did pen that book and indeed he was arrested in connection with the killing of Eoin Morley, and a number of other incidents in which he admitted taking part.
“And the police released him without charge because they said that there was insufficient evidence to confirm that he was the author of the book.”
Mr Winters alleges: “Now, leaving aside that extraordinary assessment, many years later, we, in fact, obtained the evidence to link Peter Keeley to authorship of that book - his own signature on fingerprint handwriting and a stamp was put on a book personally signed by him, and indeed, police confirmed to me that it was his signature in the book, but yet as we’ve now come to expect nothing ever happened.”
Mr Winters adds that “to date, Peter Keeley remains unaccountable for his crimes, not just in relation to the killing of Eoin Morley, but literally dozens of other incidents.”
Mr Morley had been linked to a breakaway republican group, the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation. In 2007, the Morley family welcomed a formal IRA apology, saying it confirmed what they had known for years - that he was murdered by informers shielded by RUC/PSNI Special Branch.
At that time, they said: “Eoin was murdered on Easter Sunday, still wearing his Easter lily on his lapel. Easter Sunday is a day that is special to all Republicans. On that day we remember all those throughout the years who made the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of the goals laid out in the proclamation of 1916. Eoin Morley also paid the ultimate price, murdered by British agents because he dared to take up the fight.”
Aside from the ongoing civil action, Mr Winters has been calling for a more thematic look into the role of agents within the Provisional IRA. If the controversial Legacy Bill receives Royal Assent, this would be unlikely to ever happen.
“Looking back on the stunning impact from everything that we know about agents and informants within the Republican movement, the obvious candidate for the lead candidate in all of this is the high profile case of Fred Scappaticci.
“And of course, we have a report due out any time soon, which is supposed to tell us an awful lot about his activities, the state’s activities in overseeing the killing of many, many people.
“But there is a distinction on two basis between the Scappaticci case and the Keeley case. In the Scappaticci case, it’s a case of IRA killing IRA,” he said.
“In Keeley’s case,” Winters goes on to say, “ he was involved and allegedly implicated in the killing of members of the Crown Forces in addition to civilians such as Eoin Morley.
“Now, that is a real difficulty politically and on all sorts of other levels.
“But right across the board, it is uncomfortable for Republicans because it points to the level of penetration by the British state inside the IRA, it’s deeply uncomfortable for Unionists because when you examine Peter Keeley on the allegations that he’s involved in killing members of the security forces, that in effect, is the state killing its own.
“Now, that’s a really uncomfortable narrative for a traditional mindset, which points to the IRA on one side, and the security forces on the other side in a very simplistic black and white format.
“The Peter Keeley narrative and what we know about it to date, it completely opens and upsets that cosy narrative.”
Up Close: Protected Species, will be broadcast on Thursday, August 3 on UTV at 10.45pm.