Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Greysteel killer Stephen Irwin freed as anniversary of massacre looms

Greysteel scene: On October 30, 1993 Stephen Irwin led Torrens Knight, Geoffrey Deeney and Brian McNeill all fellow UFF members into the Rising Sun Bar
Greysteel scene: On October 30, 1993 Stephen Irwin led Torrens Knight, Geoffrey Deeney and Brian McNeill all fellow UFF members into the Rising Sun Bar

Mass murderer Stephen Irwin has been freed from prison for the second time just weeks before the 20th anniversary of the Greysteel massacre.

The 40-year-old Irwin was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement but he was imprisoned again in 2005 for slashing a football fan at an Irish Cup final.

He was told then that he would have to serve out his full sentence for the eight Rising Sun Bar deaths.

But he submitted an application to the Sentence Review Commissioners for early release and last week walked out of Maghaberry after the commissioners ruled his application should be granted and he was released immediately

East Derry MLA John Dallat described the move as “unbelievably insensitive” coming so soon before the anniversary of the Greysteel massacre.

He said: “This will only fuel the widely-held belief that Irwin and his fellow killer Torrens Knight were and most likely still are on the payroll of MI5 and that that affords them the kid glove treatment.

“I have it on excellent authority from a well placed source that both Irwin and Knight were agents and met their MI5 handlers at Ebrington and Shackleton Barracks when they were in operation.

“People are not stupid and they know there are many unanswered questions about the Greysteel slaughter and the killing of four men in Castlerock earlier the same year that Torrens Knight also committed using the same weapon.

“Those questions will only be answered if an independent inquiry is held and access is given to files on Irwin and Knight.

“I am sure the relatives of those murdered and maimed in Greysteel 20 years ago will be sickened as I am that someone who was clearly unbelievably insensitive thought it was a good time to put this killer back on the streets.”

Confirming the release, a spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said: “The SRC is an independent body and it is for them, not the Secretary of State, to determine eligible prisoners' suitability for release.

“The Sentence Review Commissioners determined that Mr Irwin's application for early release should be granted.”

The Sentence Review Commissioners were contacted but declined to comment.

Background

On October 30, 1993, Stephen Irwin led Torrens Knight, Geoffrey Deeney and Brian McNeill, all fellow UFF members, into the Rising Sun Bar in Greysteel.

Eight people — six Catholics and two Protestants were shot dead. 19 others were injured. The victims were: John Burns, Moira Duddy, Joe McDermott, Victor Montgomery, James Moore, John Moyne, Stephen Mullan and Karen Thompson.

Irwin pleaded guilty to the killings and was given eight life sentences but was later released under the Good Friday Agreement. In 2005 he was jailed for four years for knifing a football fan.

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