Army revelations ‘a step towards justice’

Campaigning priest Msgr Raymond Murray has welcomed as “another step towards truth and justice” the revelations made by the BBC’s Panorama programme around a secret British army unit in Northern Ireland responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians.

Dealing with the activities of the Military Reaction Force (MRF), Panorama interviewed seven former members who revealed that the unit had engaged in drive-by shootings in nationalist areas of Belfast in the early 1970s.

According to one former member quoted in the programme: “We were not there to act like an army unit, we were there to act like a terror group.”


Speaking to The Irish Catholic this week, Msgr Murray, who together with the late Msgr Denis Faul spent years investigating allegations of collusion and army dirty tricks in Northern Ireland said Panorama had now “proved what was already widely believed”.

“The most important thing is you had ex-soldiers coming out to admit to the killings,” said Msgr Murray, who previously wrote of MRF activities in his 1990 book, The SAS in Ireland.

“Fr Faul and I were looked upon as ‘fellow travellers’ for what we were writing then,” Msgr Murray said. “We were told the MRF did not exist.”

One of the cases dealt with in the BBC programme, and investigated by Msgr Murray at the time, was the 1972 drive-by murder of Patrick McVeigh, a 44-year-old father of six in Belfast with no paramilitary connections. That killing has now been firmly linked to the MRF and to a specific former member, now living in Australia.


That revelation, together with admissions made by other former MRF members led to the North’s former deputy first minister, Seamus Mallon to call this week for prosecutions of those involved. However, a previous investigation, in 1993 of the McVeigh shooting failed to convict those responsible.

“All people want is the truth,” Msgr Murray insisted.