Collusion- The murder of Alan Ryan and the role of the state
It has been less than 3 months since IRA volunteer and 32CSM activist Alan Ryan was murdered. Yet from the day of his murder there have been several unresolved issues raised about the role of the state in the run up to his murder and their conspicuous absence from the area whilst the killers made good their escape. The questions raised about state complicity have gained added currency following the behaviour of the state following Alan’s murder. This piece is intended to raise these issues and to initiate a wider discussion about collusion and to hopefully begin a campaign to force the gardai to answer difficult questions about their complicity in Alan’s murder.
There are three main areas surrounding the murder of Alan that require questions to be answered. These are the media campaign of vilification and defamation leading up to his murder, the behaviour of the Gardai on the day of his murder and their behaviour in the weeks following. By examining each and probing into the relationship between the state, gardai, media and the drugs gangs it will become clear that there are wider agendas at play in Alan’s murder.
In the two years prior to his murder Alan and other members of his family had been subjected to a sustained media campaign of conjecture about their involvement in Republican activity. Whilst lurid tabloid coverage is nothing new to Republicans this campaign was an altogether more sinister one as it was clearly being directed and controlled from Special Branch HQ in Harcourt street. Stories were planted in the media with the assistance of several well known crime “journalists”. The role of these journalists in inciting violence on the streets of Dublin is well known. The most notorious, if only for his prose is Paul Williams. Williams who holds no qualifications in journalism has survived and thrived thanks largely to his family connections to the Gardai. His immediate family include members of the special branch. His parasitic relationship with the Gardai relies on a mutual dependency. Williams is fed stories which he duly embellishes and ensures that certain Garda senior brass are given special mention in whatever book or article it is that he is pushing. In return Williams is guaranteed privileged access to the holy grail of crime journalism. The “security source”.
It is important to note that it has been for over 6 years an offence for a member of An Garda Siochana to pass information to a journalist. When minister for justice Michael MacDowell outlawed the practice following a series of embarrassing leaks which undermined his credibility. Despite this it is regular practice for privileged journalists to be granted access to information in return for printing uncritical pieces about the gardai.
Williams and other hacks began to print stories about Alan because they were being instructed to. A known drug dealer who claimed that he had been intimidated by Alan was informed by Williams that unless he testified he would be murdered by the RIRA.
Whatever the semantic debates about ethics in journalism there is no doubt that this type of behaviour is beyond the pale. Williams duly ran an exclusive interview with the individual making no mention of his previous conviction for importing cocaine.
Other journalists followed suit and soon Alan was a regular feature of the Sunday tabloids. Not content with putting his life in danger they published pictures of his ex-partners home and mocked Alan for expressing outrage that this was putting his child’s life in danger. Paul Williams staged a “confrontation” with Alan outside the house under the protective gaze of a number of special branch officers. In the months preceding Alan’s murder the tabloids went into overdrive pushing the line that there was a vicious feud between the IRA and a drugs gang on the north side. Much speculation was heaped on supposed attacks linked to both sides and the role that Alan was supposedly playing in it. This was classic felon setting and was little better than pinning a target to Alan’s back for every drugs gang in Dublin.
Having completed their role in criminalizing and demonising Alan the time was ripe for the gardai to play their part in provoking and facilitating his murder. In the weeks before he was murdered the Special Branch were telling members of the 32CSM they arrested that “we wont be putting Alan back in jail we’re going to kill him”. For any dismissive of this type of remark it is important to remember that similar comments were made by the RUC in the six counties about people such as Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane who were later murdered by Loyalist gangs later found to be working hand in hand with the state. Alan was given numerous death threats in the months before his murder. Yet Paul Williams has claimed on national radio that he was aware of the plot to kill Alan 3 weeks prior to it occurring. If this is true then why has Williams not been arrested and questioned, if it is true then why was Alan not given a specific threat stemming from this information?
On the day of the murder Alan was meeting two of his friends from Sligo. Both of these men have stated that they were under heavy and regular surveillance from the Special Branch. Both men were stopped and searched by the gardai on their way to Dublin, the details of the car and occupants were then radioed in. It is clear that the gardai were aware from that morning if not before that Alan would be meeting with both men. Both men as well as others present in Donaghmede that afternoon have stated that all three were under surveillance in Dublin prior to them exiting the Ryan household.
The Donaghmede/Clongriffin area is home to a number of 32CSM activists whose homes are regularly raided, they are under almost constant surveillance and the area was regularly saturated with undercover as well as plainclothes gardai. Despite this a hit team was able to stay in the area and monitor Alan’s home and his movements for at least three days prior to the murder. They were able to murder Alan and make good their escape without running into any garda patrol. No Garda helicopter was put up following the shooting. The gardai took over ten minutes to arrive on the scene and the Special Branch officers who did arrive disgraced themselves by mocking Alan and remarking to his friends “The models dead now”.
Since his murder the information that has emerged about the drugs gang responsible would seem to further strengthen the case for garda collusion. Some of those suspected of involvement are long suspected garda informers given immunity for their crimes in return for information. This pattern will be familiar to any who have a knowledge of the relationship between Loyalist paramilitaries and the British security forces. It seems clear that a Drugs gang infiltrated by the gardai was encouraged by the media, facilitated by the gardai and allowed to murder Alan Ryan. There will no doubt be those sceptical as to whether the gardai would stoop to such levels, albeit individuals who have little knowledge of the ethics of the force in question!
For those who doubt that the gardai would allow or encourage such an incident they would do well to examine the behaviour of the gardai following the murder. The family and friends of Alan were subjected to a sustained campaign of harassment in the days following his murder. The Donaghmede area was saturated with gardai. The trusty “garda sources” briefed the media that Alan was an apolitical criminal. They made comments such as “he wont be missed”. The media saw fit to print pictures of Alan lying murdered in the street. These same publications would a month later find themselves in a moral dilemma over the morality of printing topless pictures of Kate Middleton!
Alan was given a Republican funeral with all the customary procedures for an IRA volunteer. This only proceeded due to the discipline and resolve shown by his comrades. It infuriated the establishment who decided it was the appropriate pretext for initiating the second stage of the plan. Following the murder of Alan the state have to date arrested 26 Republicans in connection with his funeral. Three face spurious charges with two men including one of Alan’s brother on remand in Portlaoise jail with no evidence being presented against them. What is clear is that the state intends to use Alan’s murder as a springboard from which to crush the Republican movement in the 26 counties.
Republicans across the 26 counties have been subjected to a sustained and unprecedented level of harassment. All of this is being done under the guise of investigating the funeral of Alan Ryan. It must be evident to even a hostile observer that the gardai have shown little interest in solving Alan’s murder. To date three people have been arrested with the gardai admitting that none are suspected of direct involvement. All three have been released without charge.
There are those who will ask to what end would the Free State collude indirectly with a criminal gang to murder Alan Ryan? The answer to that lies in the political significance of Alan as an individual and his role within the anti drugs efforts of the Republican movement. Alan was a prominent and well respected Republican and had an impeccable Republican pedigree. A teen member of the Fianna he progressed into the ranks of the IRA. He was an ex-POW and commanded respect in the wider Republican circle. He had built up a strong support base on the North side of Dublin. More importantly Alan was a strong supporter of unity amongst Republicans. He was also supportive of the unity moves being made by Republican militants. As such it must be highlighted Alan presented a pertinent threat to not only the Free State but to the British establishment in the six counties. The British security services had more than a passing interest in seeing Alan Ryan removed from the scene.
To the Free State establishment Alan was a headache. Despite the media campaign of criminalisation the ordinary people of Dublin continued to offer support to Alan. This was because the most effective rebuttal to claims of criminality was Alan’s lifestyle. He lived simply and frugally and this was common knowledge in his community. Likewise his effectiveness as an active service volunteer meant that the gardai were coming under increasing pressure to take him off the streets. They were unable to do so and with each passing month their inability to stop the growing strength of the IRA in Dublin was becoming a greater embarrassment to them.
The removal of Alan Ryan suited therefore the agenda of two states as well as mi5 and the gardai. However their proxy gunmen had their own agenda. Alan Ryan had crippled the drugs gangs in Dublin. The term gangs does not truly convey the nature of these organisations. These are essentially cartels with annual turnovers of millions of euros, access to high grade weaponry and given basically a free hand to operate by an incompetent and corrupt police force. The greatest threat to this business empire came from Alan and republicans. Encouraged by media distortions painting Alan as unconnected to the wider republican family these gangs were encouraged to begin to plan for his removal. Unlike him they would not be subject to draconian legislation or constant surveillance and harassment. They were the convenient vehicle for a state driven agenda.
Alan Ryan was set up to be murdered. His killers were allowed to gun him down and escape. They have not been subject to any serious effort to solve his murder. They roam the streets immune from prosecution until the day they will no doubt outgrow their usefulness.
There are many who will feel little sympathy for Alan perhaps feeling he should expect little more. They should ask themselves then how they feel about living in a state which allows one of its citizens to be murdered simply because his political beliefs are troublesome for them. How a state which exerts more effort into investigating shots fired over a coffin than the shots which murdered Alan can claim to stand for principles such as justice. They must question the role that a compliant media plays in peddling lies fed to them by the gardai.
Alan Ryan was murdered by a criminal gang. He was a political figure with a political agenda and importance. We are simply a group of his friends seeking the answers to the questions raised and looking for justice for the Ryan family.
The Frank Ryan Society