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1992: IRA murders 'informers'

VIDEO : Killings condemed by local priest

The IRA has admitted killing the three men found by the army at different roadsides in South Armagh last night.

They claim the men were informers for MI5 and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch and they had been tried and killed by the IRA.

The victims were from Portadown, County Armagh and have been identified as Gregory Burns, 33, John Dignam, 32, and Aidan Starrs, 29.

In a style typical of IRA ritual killings the bodies were found in ditches, naked and hooded with evidence of beatings and single bullets through the backs of the heads.

The IRA tried to justify the murders in an unusually detailed statement, outlining the intelligence work of the three and linking them to the murder of civil servant Margaret Perry, 26.

Her body was found on Tuesday in a shallow grave over the border in Mullaghmore, County Sligo after she disappeared on her way to work in Portadown over a year ago.


"The IRA's actions demonstrate the true nature of terrorism."

Prime Minister John Major

The IRA claim that Ms Perry was having an affair with one of the dead men, Mr Burns, but says she had threatened to expose the group's intelligence links to the IRA, so they had kidnapped and murdered her.

All three men disappeared from their homes a few days ago and their bodies were dumped close to the border within 10 miles of each other, at Newtownhamilton, Bessbrook and Crossmaglen.

The army left them overnight in case they had been booby trapped.

These are the first killings in Northern Ireland in eight weeks, and come in the wake of recent progress at talks in Stormont, Belfast and London.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Prime Minister John Major said, "The IRA's actions demonstrate yet again the true nature of terrorism".

In Context
The three men were buried within days of their discovery, along with Margaret Perry, in Portadown.

The exact truth behind their activities and deaths remains unclear, but letters written by the men shortly before their disappearances suggest that they knew they were going to die.

Some evidence suggests that at least one of them was involved in the recovery of Ms Perry's body.

Peace talks at Stormont continued until December 1993 when Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds and British Prime Minister John Major agreed The Downing Street Declaration.

It laid the foundations for future multi-party talks and aimed to achieve self-determination based on consensus in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.


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