Belfast Telegraph

Police probe landmine attack claims made by ex-IRA man in book

By Cate McCurry

Police have confirmed they are investigating the contents of a book containing damning claims by a former IRA member about his role in an attack on RUC officers.

Michael Ryan, who took part in the IRA's border campaign between 1956 and 1962, made a series of shocking revelations in a book that was published two months ago.

Entitled My Life in the IRA: The Border Campaign, the 81-year-old revealed his central role in detonating a landmine which seriously injured two RUC officers in a vehicle.

Described as a "no-holds-barred insider account", Ryan's memoir details his time in the IRA and the ill-fated border campaign.

Ryan, who lives in Dundalk, is now the subject of a police investigation about the 1959 attack in Ballsmill, outside Newry.

Two police officers, RUC Constable William Johnston (28) and Special Constable Trevor Boyle (21), who was in the reserve police force known as the 'B' Specials, suffered serious injuries.

Referring to the attack in his book, Ryan wrote: "The jeep was hit all right, because I could see some parts of it fly into the air and land a few yards away.

"We were showered with clay and debris.

"The three of us immediately opened fire on the jeep."

Ryan also wrote that after escaping across the border, he was disappointed that the operation had not been as successful as he had hoped.

DUP MLA William Irwin, who previously called for an investigation into the claims, welcomed the PSNI's decision.

"When allegations like this are made, it's important that it's looked into by police and it's looked at closely," he said.

"It's obvious, from the book, that it was his intent to murder police officers. It looks to me he has a case to answer.

"There always seems to be trouble getting people from the Irish Republic, and, for someone who has admitted their guilt, it clearly needs investigated."

Mr Irwin said he would be "astounded" if authorities in the Republic refused to extradite someone who had confessed.

He continued: "It is not a surprise that IRA men are prepared to gloat and boast about what they have done in the past.

"It shows that they are not remorseful or want to apologise for what they have done. It's ridiculous that anyone can make profit out of a situation whereby they are admitting to trying to murder people, especially members of security forces."

Detective Chief Superintendent Tim Mairs said: "We have considered the contents of the book and can confirm we are investigating the claims made within it."

The book is the first account by an IRA member who was active during the border campaign.

Ryan was interned for a year in the Curragh camp in Kildare in 1958, and was also jailed for three months in 1961.

He further claimed that he was told a consignment of bazooka rocket launchers and rockets were being sent by Irish supporters in the USA, but when they arrived they were duds.

The book, edited by former journalist Padraig Yeates, is published by Mercier Press.

Belfast Telegraph

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