It’s Saturday 13th of January today – I never do this as part of my job at RFJ, speak to or write about the killing of my brother Peter.
I suppose I’m conscious somewhere within that I am privileged to be in a position to represent so many families and not – never – to abuse that honour or leave it open to give the impression of such, and maybe that’s silly I hear you say.
13th January 1990 was also a Saturday. The first we knew anything was really wrong was when our street was sealed off with the arrival of RUC and British army military carriers. Around 20 armed soldiers surrounded our home while more searched the grounds and the house looking for documents. Plain clothed RUC questioned me as neighbours and family remonstrated about the heavy hand. British army with tool kits started to remove kitchen tiles and check any loose flooring. Some of them were plain clothed too.
Frantically they pulled the place apart looking for papers, maps and documents. We were at a loss as to what this was about.
This took place as Peter’s body lay at the scene of where he and two others, Eddie Hale and John McNeill were killed.
As it turned out Peter and Eddie had a few weeks earlier handled weapons and covert intelligence documents belonging to a covert British army unit that had been taken from a car in Lisburn. This was a totally happenstance incident in which two kids tried to steal a car and unsuccessful took two holdalls from it containing to their surprise the contents.
A weapon was recovered and identities revealed. The papers – intelligence – were destroyed.
The documents related to an undercover operation against the IRA in Belfast.
Suffice to say the same unit from which the weapons and intelligence was taken were the exact same unit that killed Peter, Eddie and John.
The killings were at the time attributed to the British army’s 14th Intelligence Unit. We now know it was the Force Research Unit, which at the time was a secretive unit.
The only political support we ever got was from Gerry Adams the then MP for West Belfast who helped reveal the sinister backgrounds around these premeditated planned killings.
Like so many families truth and accountability are required.
That’s why here in the US we are lobbying for support and direct intervention in order to see the implementation of agreements in order to deal with the past. Our efforts are to secure processes of truth, justice and accountability for ALL victims. Inclusively and without caveat.
British and unionist bad faith can no longer be accepted- the denial of rights needs to end.
Funding needs to be released for inquests to take place and the embargo across the PSNI, MoD, public records, imposed to suffocate truth must end too.That’s our message here as we head off from Pearl River, Rockland County to Queens to meet Congressman Joe Crowley.
Thoughts are with my clann today, and especially my mum, as they visit my brother’s grave as they do on every anniversary.