Almost 40 years after the disappearance of Belfast man Joe Lynskey, republicans have finally admitted he was “executed and buried” by the IRA.
Confirmation came yesterday in a briefing conducted by a man who once operated as the IRA’s ‘P O’Neill’ — the organisation’s leadership spokesman.
That man still speaks with the authority of the republican leadership.
In a detailed briefing the source revealed:
In 1972 the IRA executed and buried Joe Lynskey;
He was an IRA volunteer in Belfast at that time;
Lynskey was summoned to a meeting outside Belfast by the then leadership;
He wasn’t aware that he was under (IRA) investigation at that stage;
He was arrested by the IRA;
He was court-martialled for breaches of IRA standing orders;
He was subsequently executed and buried in an unmarked grave.
Yesterday, the senior republican who conducted the briefing told the Belfast Telegraph: “Members of Joe Lynskey’s family approached the IRA some time ago seeking information about his disappearance, and for obvious reasons there has been a prolonged investigation. These events occurred almost 40 years ago.”
He said 1972 was a period when the conflict was “at its height” — there had been “multiple operations”.
The republican investigation had been complicated because of “the passage of time, (and) the deaths of many of those directly involved”. Others approached for information had displayed “open hostility” towards republicans involved in the investigation.
“Initial inquiries following the approach by the Lynskey family uncovered a lot of rumour, but no hard information,” the senior republican told this newspaper.
But he then revealed the sequence of events — involving two shootings, which ended in Lynskey’s “execution” by the IRA.
“IRA suspicions were raised when a republican supporter was shot and seriously injured at the home of a relative in west Belfast.
“A short time after that shooting there was another incident, which arose as a direct result of the previous shooting and a man was killed,” the senior republican said. “An IRA investigation revealed that Joe Lynskey had ordered another IRA volunteer to shoot the first man.
“Joe Lynskey was having an affair with that man’s wife.”
The Lynskey “execution” dating back into the early 70s is expected to be detailed in a book written by the journalist Ed Moloney and due for publication soon.
Yesterday, the senior republican who briefed this newspaper said the IRA had not identified Lynskey’s “unmarked grave”.
Information was to be passed to the family and the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains.
Yesterday’s briefing means that Joe Lynskey’s name will now be added to the official list of ‘the Disappeared’.