Belfast Telegraph

Monday 30 May 2016

RUC was unaware of Shankill bomb plan, says police chief Hamilton

By Staff Reporter

Published 27/01/2016

The scene following the Shankill bomb
The scene following the Shankill bomb
Desmond Frizzell was killed in the Shankill Road bombing
Rescuers at the Shankill bombing
The devastation on the Shankill Road in the aftermath of the 1993 IRA bombing of Frizzell’s fish shop

The Chief Constable has denied claims the RUC could have prevented the Shankill bomb after it emerged that the IRA’s north Belfast commander at the time was a double agent.

George Hamilton last night said the force had no advance knowledge of the attack.

Speaking at an event in Queen’s University in Belfast, he added: “I am 100% convinced that the police service at the time had no knowledge of the Shankill bombing that would have prevented it from happening.

“That statement will be tested, investigated and found to be right or otherwise by the Police Ombudsman.”

Ten people, including two children and one of the IRA bombers, died in the 1993 atrocity in Belfast’s loyalist heartland on a busy Saturday afternoon.

Earlier this week the Irish News reported that IRA’s north Belfast commander at the time of the attack was an agent codenamed ‘AA’. The claim was based on decrypted files stolen by the terror group during a break-in at Castlereagh police station on St Patrick’s Day in 2002.

The IRA is believed to have identified up to two-dozen informers in its ranks, including its former leader in Ardoyne — a taxi driver in his mid-50s who was jailed in the H-Blocks.

It was alleged that he passed information to his Special Branch handlers that potentially could have prevented the bombing at Frizzell’s fish shop.

The Police Ombudsman is formally assessing a complaint from a relative of one of the victims of the bombing asking for AA and his relationship with the security forces to be investigated.

The watchdog has said it is focused on whether the RUC had information which would have allowed them to prevent it.

Shankill bomb atrocity
Shankill bomb atrocity
Desmond Frizzell was killed in the Shankill Road bombing
Shankill bomb atrocity
Thomas Begley, the IRA bomber who blew himself up in the Shankill bomb in 1993.
Shankill bomb atrocity
Rescuers at the Shankill bombing
The devastation on the Shankill Road in the aftermath of the 1993 IRA bombing of Frizzell’s fish shop

They are also examining whether the subsequent investigation was compromised.

Yesterday, the Belfast Telegraph revealed the IRA had identified many more informers.

The group tasked four of its members with decoding the heavily redacted documents snatched during the 2002 raid.

Two of those appointed to the investigation team were former prisoners from Belfast.

They worked at separate locations in the Republic and operated with stringent security measures in place to prevent the documents falling into the hands of the Garda.

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