Double Agent in the spotlight in the next UTV ‘UP CLOSE’
“We believe that Peter Keeley’s handling went right to the top of the state”, Solicitor Barry O’Donnell.
The next episode of UTV’s award winning current affairs programme ‘Up Close’ investigates the activities of a controversial double agent, who operated within the Provisional IRA for 15 years at the height of the Troubles.
Peter Keeley, aka ‘Kevin Fulton’ and his employers, MI5 and Special Branch, are now facing court action from up to 30 victims and their relatives, on both sides of the community.
Entitled ‘Protected Species’, airing tomorrow night (Thursday 3rd August) at 10.45pm, and presented by UTV’s Sarah McKinley, the hour-long programme looks at how Peter Keeley, as a young British Army recruit, was employed by the state to infiltrate the IRA, spending 15 years’ involved in various high profile shootings and bombings.
UTV presenter Sarah McKinley
We learn how victims’ families became aware of his possible involvement through a book he wrote 20 years ago, claiming to have saved dozens of lives, and how they are being thwarted in their quest for answers and justice.
Delivery driver Patsy Quinn tells Sarah how Keeley forced him at gunpoint to be involved in a hijacking. Keeley and others were caught and, he says, named him as the ringleader. He spent two years in jail, while Keeley only spent one.
“He did ruin my life, he did big time.” Patsy says.
Sarah speaks to the mother of another victim Joanne Reilly from Warrenpoint, who was killed in 1989, by a massive bomb, while working in a builder’s yard next door to the police station. Her mother Anne, explains the family’s unsuccessful attempts to get a Troubles victims’ pension.
“We were victims, but we were victims in a different way”, Anne said.
In his book, Keeley admits he was involved in the making of that bomb, but says he was in Omeath when it went off.
Keeley also admits to being present at so-called punishment shootings, including the murder of Eoin Morley in 1990. His mother Eilish speaks to Sarah about how Keeley spread rumours that Eoin Morley had leaked information about a Provisional IRA arms dump.
This case was a catalyst for the ongoing civil action, and solicitor Kevin Winters explains to Sarah how from that one case, there are now dozens more.
Jeanitta McCabe tells Sarah about her family’s still-felt trauma at the hands of the IRA gang who broke into their home, demanded keys to his van, shot her father and then told them to leave Ireland in 24 hours.
She says 33 years on, “I still don’t feel safe in my life, in my home.”
Solicitor Kevin Winters
In the second part of the programme we hear about Newry garage owner, Colman McEvoy who was forced to drive a van full of explosives to an army checkpoint which killed Ranger Cyril Smith from Carrickfergus. Cyril has been trying to warn colleagues of the bomb after dragging Mr Coleman to safety. Solicitor Barry O’Donnell rubbishes claims made by Keeley in his book that the soldier tried to push Colman McEvoy back into the van to move it.
“There are more questions than answers as far as I’m concerned,” Cyril’s father said.
The final part of the programme tells how Keeley eventually came under suspicion from the IRA and that he only escaped death because of the 1994 ceasefire. Keeley claims to have continued working at a lower level and says that he warned the police in advance of the Omagh bomb happening in 1998.
He later went to the police ombudsman to tell Nuala O’Loan that it should have been stopped. Her subsequent report was highly critical of the RUC and its investigation. It sparked a major public row with then Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, over Keeley’s value as an agent.
Ex-MI5 officer Annie Machon reveals that the UK security services are “the most legally protected and the least legally accountable of any intelligence agency in any Western democracy. They’re not going to give up that secrecy without a fight. Absolutely, there should be greater accountability.”
The programme also looks at the newly proposed Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR), set up to deal with Troubles’ legacy cases. It will be headed up by former Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan, who insists he is prepared to take the Government to court, if he feels they are holding back on important information.
Eilish Morley said, “Keeley and his handlers have to be exposed at all costs. People will never trust the British system again, if this does not come to light”
Anne Reilly said, “Keeley has to answer for what he has done and what he was involved in.”
Brendan McCourt who produced and directed the programme said:
“This film turns over a stone to reveal a little more truth and detail about what really went on during the Troubles. It’s a narrative that some do not want to be told. That’s why it’s enormously important that investigative journalists must now, more than ever, continue to hold power to account.”
Sarah said: “Thank you to everyone who took part, especially those who have been directly impacted by the actions of Peter Keeley, and who talked so openly to us about their experiences. We hope that this ‘Up Close’ will help viewers gain an insight into this darker side of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.”
‘Up Close’ airs Thursday night (3rd August) at 10.45pm on UTV.