Return to Back issues 1999
Return to Homepage ‘The Committee’
Return to Homepage
by Tim Logan
Sean McPhilemy’s banned book, The Committee, exposes the RUC Death Squads and their links with the ‘establishment’ in northern Ireland
Sean McPhilemy’s banned book The Committee makes sensational claims of inextricable links between David Trimble and prominent members of the Unionist establishment accused of ordering the murder of political opponents.
Trimble and his now-deceased constituent ‘King Rat’, the Loyalist Volunteer Force leader, Billy Wright may not have been close but they were intimate enough to indulge tête-à-tête witnessed by the BBC’s Peter Taylor, in the midst of a stand-off at Drumcree. This may have been considered by many as an ordinary encounter between a high-profile politician and an unemployed working-class man with limited formal education. While one was assured and confident, the other was eager to please and uncomfortable: However, it was Trimble who was sweating.
Wright is named in McPhilemy’s book as a prominent member of the Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee. He, along with others including a senior Ulster bank executive, a Presbyterian minister, a prominent solicitor, a staff member at Queen’s University and an Ulster Independence Committee member, conspired with RUC/UDR inner force connivance to murder their political opponents. All are named by McPhilemy as Committee members, and all have a direct connection with David Trimble.
In February 1988, as a lecturer in law at Queen’s University, Trimble penned the pamphlet What Choice for Ulster. He wrote that the Anglo-Irish Agreement signalled Britain’s intention to withdraw the ‘birth-rights’ of the Ulster British and presented the case for an independent ‘Ulster’. These views were to become the blueprint for the most extreme Loyalists. The establishment of a pro-independent Ulster bloc mirrored the sharp increase in Loyalist paramilitary terror attacks. The first step towards organising the Loyalist death squads into a co-operative unit was taken in 1985.
Hiding behind the cloak of respectability, some of the north of Ireland’s most prominent businessmen, politicians, lawyers and clerics became directly involved in the Loyalist assassination campaign. The Committee provided paramilitaries with money, arms and political direction. The body’s access to detailed official files and information, and the ability to provide the ‘hands on’ involvement of RUC units, made certain that the sectarian murder forces were virtually untouchable. The conspiracy, however, runs much deeper. According to McPhilemy, it goes to the very heart of the Unionist establishment and involves a core leadership within the RUC know as the ‘inner circle’, with the ex-head of the RUC Special Branch as overall commander. Similar allegations made by McPhilemy in a Channel 4 documentary, broadcast on October 2nd 1991, led Trimble to insist forcefully and repeatedly that it was all a hoax. The Sunday Express repeated the accusation outside Parliament — and it cost them £500,000 for libel.
Fr. Raymond Murray’s book The SAS in Ireland documents the collusion with, and direction of, Loyalist death squads by the British Army elite. Robin Jackson was recruited by British Army intelligence in 1974. According to McPhilemy’s sources he was trained in the art of assassination. The former British intelligence officer, Captain Fred Holroyd, who was based in Portadown between 1973 and 1975, has no doubt that Jackson was licensed to kill by the security services.
McPhilemy records how two on-duty RUC officers, belonging to the ‘Inner Force’ and acting on instructions from The Committee, used the RUC computer to select a Catholic victim by checking car license plates. They then arranged to meet Billy Wright and guide him to the lovers’ lane where the young Catholic man Dennis Carville and his girlfriend were parked. The couple were murdered in a so-called revenge attack for the IRA killing of the UDR soldier Colin McCullogh at the same spot. Trimble’s only comment was that some idiot had taken the law into his own hands
Another victim of The Committee, in February 1989, was the leading defence lawyer for Nationalists Patrick Finucane. Following the aforementioned Channel 4 screening, a prominent Loyalist solicitor launched proceedings of criminal libel against McPhilemy in December 1992, claiming that he could be recognised from the programme’s description and that he was, in fact, being set up for assassination. This would be revenge for the Finucane killing, precisely because he was present in the Finagh Orange Hall in January 1989, when that murder was commissioned. Another solicitor and David Trimble sponsored the complainant’s claim that he was recognisable. The fellow solicitor, according to McPhilemy, happens to be in a legal practice with another member of The Committee — the same legal practice that looks after Trimble’s affairs.
McPhilemy points out that the conspiracy goes deep and wide. He names five other senior RUC officers, an ex-Assistant Chief Constable and an ex-head of the RUC Special Branch, plus two Majors still serving in the UDR/RIR all with links to The Committee, as well as Councillors, church ministers, academics, solicitors and businessmen.
The political hand of The Committee and the heart of its murder operation is around Drumcree, in Portadown, Trimble’s Constituency.
When Trimble was a member of the academic staff at Queen’s University in the late 1980’s both he and another faculty member sat on the executive of the extreme Loyalist Ulster Clubs. The latter of the two joined The Committee formed by his brother, a leading bank executive and ex-RUC officer. In 1991 this former RUC officer, for his own amusement, posed as a driver for the Ulster Resistance when escorting a Channel 4 reporter to an interview. The reporter became aware that RUC officers appeared deferential to the driver, waving them through roadblocks. Laughing, he turned to the journalist and asked rhetorically ‘it makes you wonder who runs this place doesn’t it?
By his stance on the peace process, Trimble has made it clear that if he isn’t speaking for the people ‘who run the place’; he is certainly still speaking to them.
Return to Back issues 1999
Return to Homepage
Return to Homepage