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Sunday Life

Michael Stone will 'name and shame politicians in UDA'

Family reveal Milltown killer's life will end behind bars after fresh bid for freedom denied

Michael Stone
Michael Stone

By Martin Breen

Milltown Cemetery murderer Michael Stone will name unionist politicians and State agents involved in loyalist terror before he dies behind bars.

The loyalist killer's family told Sunday Life that he will die behind bars after Sentence Review Commissioners (SRC) turned down his latest bid to be freed from jail.

They revealed that the ex-UDA hitman is now planning to tell all about his paramilitary past to historical investigators.

Stone, currently serving a 30-year jail term for waging a sectarian murder campaign, has also offered to take part in any truth and reconciliation process.

It is understood he is willing to speak about unionist political figures and State agents who were involved in the Troubles.

This was referenced in a statement last night which referred to how he wanted to give information to legacy investigators to show young loyalists that they should "not be influenced by those within political unionism nor allow themselves to be manipulated and used by State agents within the realms of loyalist paramilitarism as he and many others were in the past".

The 64-year-old, who suffers from a heart condition and the rare debilitating Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2F, is currently behind bars at Maghaberry Prison.

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PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/11/2006 Renegade Loyalist Michael Stone is tackled by security officers as he enters Stormont this morning. Stone entered the building claiming that he had a blast bomb, and shouting anti Sinn Fein propaganda. He has been arrested
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/11/2006 Renegade Loyalist Michael Stone is tackled by security officers as he enters Stormont this morning. Stone entered the building claiming that he had a blast bomb, and shouting anti Sinn Fein propaganda. He has been arrested

His family said he was wearing leg splints and had to use a wheelchair to get from his cell to a hearing with the SRC in a prison meeting room in late August.

On Wednesday Lord Justice McCloskey rejected claims by the sister of one of his victims that the commissioners have no jurisdiction to determine his bid to be released again under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

"The SRC must be satisfied that he would not be a danger to the public," the judge added.

However, they have now turned down his application to be freed early for a second time, deeming him a danger to the public.

Deborah McGuinness, whose brother Thomas McErlean was among mourners murdered in Stone's attack on an IRA funeral at Milltown Cemetery in March 1988, had fought to have him kept behind bars.

Stone, who was convicted of six murders including three in his gun and grenade attack at the west Belfast graveyard, was originally freed early in 2000 as part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement arrangements.

Six years later, however, he was sent back to jail after trying to enter Parliament Buildings at Stormont, armed with explosives, knives and an axe, in an attempt to murder Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

He denied it had been a bid to kill the politicians, instead claiming it was an act of performance art.

His family told Sunday Life the decision to refuse him early release again means he will now serve "a natural life term".

"Given the recent ludicrous decision by the SRC that Michael is a danger to the public which, given his age and health, is condemning him to a natural life term," a statement from his wife Karan and family said last night.

"During the hearing Michael stated that if and when he was released he would participate fully in any form of legacy and truth reconciliation system similar to that in the South African conflict.

"This co-operation would be to shed light on his personal experiences as a former loyalist volunteer. He intends to volunteer information to historical investigators on his personal past."

In a statement through his family, Stone has also warned of a growing militancy among young loyalists and that the conditions in some areas are similar to what they were like when the Troubles broke out.

"He fears that conditions similar to that in the late 60s and early 70s are developing within working class unionism, a tragic place we never want to go back too.

"The constant threat of a united Ireland, twinned with the upsurge of extreme Irish republican activity, is having an adverse effect on many young loyalists within the community."

He said his plan to volunteer information to historical investigators is "an attempt to show young loyalists who may be at a crossroads such as he was in his past the stark reality and the futility of politically motivated violence created in our political vacuum. He has asked that they not be influenced by those within political unionism nor allow themselves to be manipulated and used by State agents within the realms of loyalist paramilitarism as he and many others were in the past."

Earlier this month, Stone claimed he didn't murder two Catholic men he previously admitted shooting - joiner Kevin McPolin in 1985 and bread van driver Dermot Hackett two years later. He claimed he took the rap for others after he was caught for the Milltown Cemetery murder spree in March 1988.

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