Bodies of shot IRA men recovered

SECURITY forces in Northern Ireland yesterday recovered the naked bodies of three IRA men who were shot after being accused of being British intelligence and RUC informers.

The three, whose hooded bodies were discovered in separate isolated spots in south Armagh, were also accused in a detailed IRA statement of murdering a woman, the girlfriend of one, because she was on the brink of exposing their links with MI5 and the RUC.

A priest called to administer the last rites to one of the three said that the body was covered in marks, with blood on the hands and neck, suggesting that he may have been tortured.

The IRA said they had 'confessed' about their work for the security services. The RUC, in keeping with policy, refused to comment.

The IRA named the three as Aidan Starrs, John Dignam and Gregory Burns, well-known republicans who lived near each other in Portadown, Co Armagh, from where they had disappeared several days ago. Starrs, 29, was jailed for eight years for possessing explosives in 1983, and Dignam, 32, sentenced to 12 years in 1980 for causing an explosion, possession of a firearm and wounding.

Burns, 33, had no terrorist convictions, but his brother, Sean, was an IRA member shot dead by police near Lurgan, Co Armagh, in 1982. The IRA said their victim had supplied information to the security services on his brother.

The bodies, shot through the head, were discovered late on Wednesday night dumped within 10 miles of each other, beside isolated roads near Crossmaglen, Bessbrook and Newtown Hamilton.

All three had been killed after admitting working for the security services - Burns for MI5 and the others for the police, the IRA said.

It added that they were responsible for the 'brutal murder' of Margaret Perry, 26, Burns's girlfriend who disappeared from her home a year ago and was found buried in a shallow grave across the border in Co Sligo on Tuesday. Her body was only formally identified yesterday by her mother Mary.

Burns was recruited by MI5 in 1979 and paid to supply political information on Sinn Fein and to infiltrate the H Blocks Committees at the time, according to the IRA statement. His handler, code-named Frank, later sent him to live in Amsterdam to infiltrate the Irish community there.

On his return to the province in 1984, the Provisionals say he resumed his intelligence-gathering for which he was being paid pounds 220 a month. In 1987 Burns was urged to spy on the IRA's North Armagh brigade, through Aidan Starrs. The IRA say Burns was so well trained, both in accumulating details of weapons, and in creating innovative dumps for IRA weapons, that he ended up as quartermaster for the Portadown area.

By 1989, Starrs and Dignew, according to the IRA, were aware that Burns was working for MI5, and all three became involved in extortion and racketeering. The following year, the IRA claims, they were suspended while corruption allegations were investigated. The IRA contends that last year Burns feared that his girlfriend, Margaret Perry, might expose him and drew up a murder plan with Starrs, in which she was lured to Sligo and strangled and battered to death with a shovel. Starrs believed he had left too many clues, and, according to the IRA, returned with Dignam to the scene of the crime to retrieve taping he left behind.

Weeks later Dignam was arrested by the police and told of the murder but was given immunity for becoming an informant himself. Starrs was also arrested and confronted with Dignam's story, and he too was given immunity and recruited an informer.

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea