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Anyone else read The Committee by Sean McPhilemy

A well written interesting and very disturbing book, reading well researched and referenced. This book essentially claims that there was a secret group composed of serving RUC, Private business and religious leaders who were organizing British terrorist death squads. These death squads murdered innocent Irish people as part of their terrorist campaign.

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The Committee
Political Assassination In Northern Ireland

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The book revolves around an investigative journalist documentary that aired in England in 1991, exposing an assassination machine set up in Northern Ireland and directed by the Ulster Loyalist Central Coordinating Committee (ULCCC). According to the author, the ULCCC was intended to direct the overall efforts of loyalist paramilitary action against IRA targets...meaning the ULCCC would identify and coordinate the murder of suspected IRA members. Some of the interesting topics include:
- The ULCCC was comprised of influential members of the Loyalist Protestant community to include bankers, ministers, police officers, businessmen, and RUC leaders
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Reviews from readers.
This is by far THE most important book to be written about the northern Irish conflict in the 90's. It goes to the core of unionism's rotten apple and exposes the frightening reality of the police state. Rather than provide a detailed account of the murders themselves (let Martin Dillon cash in on the butchery with his 'RUC-friendly' thrillers), this masterpiece of journalistic investigation - which is worthy of scholarly credit in its thoroughness and accountability - shows just how deep RUC corruption goes and how high it reaches in 'honourable' unionist circles. McPhilemy pulls no punches in denouncing the IRA and one is left in no doubt as to his lack of pro-republican bias when he goes so far in the final chapter as to suggest that the forming of such a group as the committee is "understandable" in view of unionist suffering at the hands of the IRA. He has so far won two important libel battles and the fact that only ONE case has had PARTIAL success in refuting SOME of his allegations about TWO committee members out of TWENTY-FOUR mentioned in the book, shows that it is probably fear more than anything behind the banning of the book on this side of the Atlantic. This is essential reading for anyone hoping to begin to understand the mirky underworld of northern Irish politics. No-one may enter the debate about the credibility of the RUC without reading it, and this debate will never reach a successful conclusion until 'The Committee' is fully and impartially investigated.
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Preface to the Paperback Edition

It is now exactly eight years since I uncovered the scandal reported in this book. In 1991, I obtained evidence that the Royal Ulster Constabulary [RUC], the British Government's police force in the north of Ireland, was secretly running "death squads." Senior RUC officers were helping a then unknown terrorist organisation -- "the Committee" -- to assassinate Republicans, Nationalists and innocent Catholics in an effort to block any moves towards a united Ireland.

These revelations were contained in a documentary, shown on British television, in which an anonymous member of this Committee testified publicly about the murder conspiracy. He admitted that his Committee, which was composed of fifty to sixty people drawn exclusively from the Ulster Protestant community, was using two professional assassins, known as "The Jackal" and "King Rat," to kill those deemed to be "enemies of Ulster." The two assassins, he said, were routinely guided to their targets by the police. And that, he boasted, was the reason why these murders would forever remain officially "unsolved."

Immediately after the broadcast, the RUC scorned my revelations as a "hoax" -- a verdict later endorsed by The Sunday Times in London, which accused me of bribery and deception. Once it had become clear that these powerful forces, the RUC and The Sunday Times, had seriously damaged my journalistic reputation in Britain, I took legal action to restore my good name. A libel jury may now have to decide the truth about my supposed "hoax." The case will be heard in the High Court in London in January 2000, unless the newspaper settles the action before that date.

This libel trial may be immediately followed by a second libel trial in the United States. The original version of this book, published in the U.S. in May 1998, contained the names of nineteen alleged Committee members, all of whom had been identified by my anonymous source as his co-conspirators in murder. Two of the nineteen, brothers David and Albert Prentice, have denied the allegation and launched a $100 million libel suit against me and my publishers. This action is due to be heard in the Washington, D.C. District Court in March 2000, unless the judge strikes it out before that date.

Throughout the past year, I have continued my investigation into the Committee and I have acquired a considerable amount of new information about the RUC's role in many more "unsolved" murders. A former RUC officer, who helped his police colleagues to carry out bombings, shootings and acts of terrorism directed against the general Catholic population, has explained to me that the RUC was corrupted to the highest levels long before the emergence of the Committee. A serving RUC officer, who read my book, contacted me in England with useful information. These officers may hold a few surprises for the RUC if any of them can be persuaded to testify, under oath, in either or both of the libel trials. Other sources have corroborated their disclosures. As a result, this paperback edition contains, for the first time, the names of RUC officers and Loyalist terrorists who together committed many more murders between 1973 and 1997, nearly all of which still remain officially "unsolved." This edition contains new information on:

* the bomb attacks on Dublin and Monaghan on the same day in May 1974, when thirty-three people were killed and many others seriously injured. Loyalist terrorists had driven their bombs across the border from County Armagh into the Irish Republic. The Dublin bombs were detonated during the rush hour to cause maximum casualties. All the bombs had been assembled at the home of a serving RUC Reserve officer and the explosives had been supplied by a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment [UDR], who was also working closely with British Military Intelligence. The names of some of the culprits are listed in Chapter 13.

* bomb and machine-gun attacks on Catholics, carried out by RUC and UDR officers, with the assistance of Loyalist paramilitaries. These attacks caused several deaths and serious injuries to innocent civilians on both sides of the border. Some of those responsible for these "unsolved" crimes are identified in Chapter 13.

* the notorious Loyalist assassin Robin Jackson, "The Jackal," who was responsible for the murder of at least 100 people between 1973 and 1996. This assassin was protected and "handled" by RUC Special Branch throughout his career and, as a result, nearly all of the murders committed by Jackson remain offficially "unsolved." The names of many of his victims, along with names of those who helped him commit his crimes, are published here for the first time. [See Appendix 6.]

* some of the most notorious Loyalist atrocities and murders of Catholics in recent years. Although these crimes remain "unsolved" by the RUC, I have been able to identify the assassins. Their names are listed in Appendix 6. One of these Loyalist killers, Mark Fulton, is the nephew of David and Albert Prentice. Although the Prentices deny membership of the Committee or sponsorship of Loyalist terrorism, Albert Prentice has admitted under oath that he gave financial support to the Mark Fulton family. He claims the money went to feed Mark Fulton's children. [See Appendix 6.]

Life imprisonment is the mandatory sentence upon conviction for murder in the United Kingdom. So it was only to be expected that the nineteen alleged Committee members identified in this book would protest their innocence of the murders attributed to them. Nor was it a great surprise when the Committee's defender in the British media and in the House of Commons, David Trimble MP, wrote to the publishers, Roberts Rinehart, in an effort to prevent the book's publication. He wrote:

The alleged Committee is a myth. The persons named as members are what they are, namely respected members of the police, army and business community.... I must therefore call on you to drop immediately this publication.

Trimble's intervention was futile and it was also foolish, because it turns out that our key source, whose name became public in late 1992, was for years a prominent member of Trimble's Ulster Unionist Party in his own constituency, Upper Bann. When Trimble wrote to Roberts Rinehart, therefore, he would certainly have known that the information about the Committee's existence and murderous activities had been given to me, back in 1991, by one of his own political associates. Trimble's sensitivity on this issue became evident at the St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Washington, D.C. this year, when he exploded with rage at Roberts Rinehart's chief executive.

Trimble will soon be required to confront these issues in a more tranquil manner when my attorney takes his deposition, under oath, in the American libel case. After Trimble has answered our auestions we will, perhaps, learn for the first time the full extent of his knowledge of the murder conspiracy and of his involvement with the Committee.

It has become increasingly clear in recent months that the main allegation in this book -- the RUC's systematic collusion, over many years, with Loyalist terrorists in the murder of Republicans and politically uninvolved Catholics -- is absolutely true. Loyalist ex-terrorists have publicly admitted, in recent weeks, that RUC offcers secretly helped them to identify their targets and carry out their killings. One ex-terrorist, Bobby Philpott, when interviewed by BBC Television was even prepared to admit that RUC collusion had been indispensable to the success of the Loyalist assassination campaign. And I have learned that a Committee member, who discussed privately my book with one of my most trusted sources, unwittingly confirmed to this person that its contents are, in all essentials, true.

Despite these admissions and the mounting evidence of RUC collusion in murder, the British "New Labour" Government has -- so far -- done everything possible to prevent the truth about this scandal from becoming publicly known. For example, the United Nations Rapporteur's demand for an independent inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane was immediately refused; and the efforts by the family of murdered RUC Sergeant Joseph Campbell to discover the truth about their father's killing have been largely ignored. And even though over 30,000 copies of this book have been sold since May 1998, I have yet to receive a single letter or telephone call from any British Government official about the numerous "unsolved" murders documented therein.

One person who was, in sharp contrast, extremely interested in my revelations and determined to do something about them was a brave and brilliant lawyer, Rosemary Nelson. By the time I first met her in 1994, Rosemary had become the single most effective crusader for justice within the notorious "murder triangle," the area which surrounds her home town, Lurgan, County Armagh. Rosemary's search for the truth and her dedication to her clients had made her the obvious choice as legal representative for the families of many Catholic victims of the RUC/Loyalist death squads. She was, as I discovered, entirely trusted and relied upon by these families, including the families of some of those whose murders are discussed in this book -- Denis Carville, Sam Marshall, Rory and Gerard Cairns, Katrina Rennie, Eileen Duffy, and Brian Frizzell.

Rosemary was murdered on Monday, March 15th, 1999, when a bomb exploded under her car. This barbarous act ended the life of a loving and beloved wife, mother, daughter and sister. The solemn Requiem Mass in thanksgiving for her life, held on Thursday, March 18th, 1999, was an unforgettable occasion. The funeral service was an outpouring of affection and admiration by virtually the entire Catholic population of Lurgan, a sorrowful tribute to her achievements and a signal that the causes to which she had devoted her professional life -- exposing the truth about RUC collusion with the Loyalists and obtaining justice for the victims' families -- would be pursued with renewed vigour in the years ahead.

I hope that now, in recognition of her tireless work for justice, her admirers will support the campaign to force the British Government to set up a genuinely independent inquiry into her murder. The historic hatreds which poison the minds and hearts of so many will persist, on all sides, until everyone is forced to confront the terrible deeds they have done. Only after we have learned the truth about the crimes committed by Republicans, Loyalists, the RUC and other British security forces will there be a real prospect of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.

Finally, readers may be interested to learn that I have sought to bring my discoveries about the Committee, the RUC and the Loyalist death squads to the attention of the British authorities. Chris Patten, who as Governor of Hong Kong had frequently condemned human rights abuses by the People's Republic of China, was appointed by the British Government, in 1998, to hold an official inquiry into the RUC, as part of the Good Friday Agreement. At the end of last year, I wrote to Mr. Patten offering him the evidence I have uncovered about serious human rights abuses much closer to home. If he had taken up my offer I would, for example, have given him the authentic video and audio tape-recordings of one self-confessed Committee member explaining, in great detail, how RUC officers had helped the Committee to run its "death squads."

But Mr. Patten did not reply to my letter. I think it unlikely, therefore, that his forthcoming report on the RUC will have much to say about police collusion in any of the numerous "unsolved" murders of Catholics between 1973 and the late 1990s. So it will be necessary, I suggest, to study his report in the light of the revelations contained in this book. Otherwise, there is a danger that the Patten Inquiry may succeed in burying the truth about these murders and in misleading the public about the RUC's role in political assassination in the north of Ireland.

Sean McPhilemy
Oxford, England
April 1999

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