Brothers flee to safety in London

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The Independent Online
TWO TEENAGE brothers ordered out of Northern Ireland by the IRA arrived at a London safe house last night.

Hours earlier, in an atmosphere charged with emotion, the boys, aged 16 and 18, wept as they said their final farewell to their bed-ridden father, who is dying of liver cancer.

Gerard and Martin Groogan, two other teenagers and a 22-year-old man, all from the same estate in Dungannon, were given their expulsion order through a local Catholic priest on Friday morning.

It came less than 36 hours after Mo Mowlam, the Northern Ireland Secretary, ruled that the IRA ceasefire was intact despite the murder of a Catholic taxi driver in Belfast last month.

After their farewell the Groogan boys' distress turned to anger against the Blair government and Ms Mowlam.

Speaking to the Independent on Sunday, Gerard, the eldest, said: ''She may as well have delivered the ultimatum herself and then shot us. She allows the IRA to do exactly what they like and they are literally getting away with murder.

''My family is destroyed. My mam doesn't know if she's going to have to bury both her sons as well as her husband soon. We have done nothing wrong other than to stand up to a few bullies on the estate who are obviously connected to the IRA.

''When the priest came to deliver the message I thought he had come to see my dad. I was stunned when he said that we had to leave by midnight on Saturday or otherwise be shot in the head.''

Vincent McKenna of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Bureau, a former IRA member, said: ''It is quite obvious Tony Blair has an IRA gun to his head and a corporate gun on the other side. If he doesn't dance to the IRA's tune they will bomb London and if that happens the major banks will pull out and move to Paris because he has been told 'no more Semtex in the City or we leave and take our business with us'."

Tory party chairman Michael Ancram, a former Northern Ireland minister, urged Ms Mowlam to suspend the early release of prisoners until the IRA demonstrates their ceasefire is for real.

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