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Murphy 'ordered killing of many people', says soldier

By Niall O'Connor

Published 03/02/2016

Thomas 'Slab' Murphy
Thomas 'Slab' Murphy

A British soldier has said he will remember Thomas 'Slab' Murphy as a "mass murderer" who ordered the killing of "many people".

Colonel Richard Kemp, who worked in intelligence at the UK’s cabinet office and who served several tours in Northern Ireland, said soldiers who served in south Armagh were long familiar with Murphy and the IRA unit he led.

Speaking on BBC’s Spotlight last night, Col Kemp said: “We were briefed on the main IRA terrorists operating in south Armagh.

“Thomas Murphy was one of the main people on that list, in fact he was, as we understood it, he was the head of the Provisional IRA in south Armagh.”

He added: “We did not believe that he was necessarily the trigger man, the one who would actually position the bombs or pull the trigger of a sniper rifle, but we did know that he was the one that sent those people out to commit murder on behalf of the IRA.

“I think Thomas Murphy will be remembered and I certainly will remember him for being a mass murderer, he killed and ordered the killing of many people.”

Former IRA member Kieran Conway, who is now a solicitor in Dublin, told the programme how he first met Murphy in the early 1970s.

“I was director of intelligence. I went to a series of meeting in the border areas with the IRA and that would have been the first time that I met Tom Murphy.

“We might discuss mutual acquaintances, a bad IRA operation or whatever, but no, no the small talk would be very minimal.”

Meanwhile Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams yesterday said there should be no “hanging” Murphy in relation to his upcoming sentencing at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.

Mr Adams yesterday insisted he is not concerned that Murphy’s sentencing hearing later this month will damage Sinn Féin’s electoral prospects.

Murphy, a former chief of the IRA, was convicted of nine counts of tax fraud in December and is now facing up to five years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled to take place just says before polling and has caused considerable angst among Sinn Féin figures.

But Mr Adams, who has consistently described his friend Murphy as a “good republican”, yesterday denied that he was worried about the hearing. Speaking to the media the Louth TD said his party is committed to abolishing the Special Criminal Court. But he was unable to say whether such a pledge will be contained in the Sinn Féin manifesto. “Whether it’s in our manifesto or not is another issue. But it certainly is one of our key objectives. It runs against the whole thrust of the Good Friday Agreement and other agreements.

Mr Adams said he would not pre-empt the decision of the court when asked if he will stand by the use of the term “good republican” in the event of Murphy being handed a jail sentence.

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