04 February 2006

Bomb at SF office ‘handled by RUC’

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes

A bomb that exploded outside a Sinn Féin office in Monaghan town in 1997 had been handled by both the British army and RUC before being planted, Daily Ireland can reveal.
Security sources confirmed yesterday that, after the bomb had been made in west Belfast’s Shankill Road, it was handed to a notorious Ulster Volunteer Force killer, who is also a long-standing police informer.
He gave the device to his RUC Criminal Investigation Department handler, who gave it to the British army.
According to security sources, the bomb was “disabled” before being returned to the CID detective, who gave it back to his UVF informer.
The paramilitary and two UVF colleagues from the loyalist Mount Vernon estate in north Belfast, who unbeknown to him were also both police informers, then made an uninterrupted 60-mile (97-kilometre) journey to Monaghan, where they planted the bomb.
On March 4, 1997, the 25 sticks of Powergel exploded, causing minor damage to the town’s Sinn Féin offices.
The explosives had been hidden inside a pink holdall. Believing the bag contained rubbish, Sinn Féin workers had moved the holdall on two occasions. Security sources told Daily Ireland the RUC had let the UVF gang carry out the attack in order to protect its three informers within the organisation.
They claimed that, because the British army had “disabled” the bomb, senior officers were confident the explosion would not result in lives being lost.
The Monaghan bombing is being investigated as part of a Police Ombudsman probe into attacks carried out by Special Branch UVF informers during the 1990s.
A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman’s office said: “Our investigation is wide-ranging and ongoing. At this stage, it would be inappropriate to comment on specific aspects.
Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, who was the target of the UVF gang, has called for a full public inquiry into the cross-border bomb attack.

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