The Irish Republican Writers Group deplores the shooting to death of Joseph O Connor. We understand that the late Mr O Connor was a member of the Real IRA and while we profoundly disagree with that organisation’s pursuit of an armed campaign, we condemn the murder of any republican. The IRWG believe that this incident raises a number of disturbing questions:
- Is it true that erstwhile Republicans now supporting the GFA and the new Stormont administration shot Joseph O Connor dead?
- Did the BBC’s recent Panorama programme isolating the RIRA influence the timing of the assassination of Joseph O Connor?
- Why was the RUC so quick to confirm that the deceased was a ‘key RIRA activist’?
- Why did the RUC initially credit the assassination to dissident feuding?
- Was the RUC raid on the RSF Belfast office, at or about the time of the shooting, done to deliberately sow doubt as to the perpetrators’ identities?
- Why did SF Councillor Sean McKnight mention ‘pre-existing tension’ in his statement, who did this tension exist between, and what, if any bearing did it have on the murder?
- Unlike previous occasions, why did Alex Attwood of the SDLP refuse to speculate on the identity of the perpetrators?
- Is it a coincidence that the family at the centre of a public debate regarding state collusion in the murder of Francisco Notorantonio should be subject to murder again?
All of these questions raise the frightening probability that Joseph O Connor was the victim of a political assassination carried out by forces loyal to the Stormont regime. In short, the execution of Joseph O Connor may have the same rationale as that which led to the execution of Rory O Connor in 1922. That is – the killing of an Irish republican in order to cooperfasten an anti-republican treaty.
The IRWG believes that it is imperative that a thoroughgoing and credible inquiry be held to determine the truth of this case and that a report be published of its findings. Such a report should be coupled with recommendations to prevent further bloodletting.