Thomas Murphy (Irish republican)

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Thomas Murphy
Nickname(s) "Slab"
Born (1949-08-26) 26 August 1949 (age 69)
Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, County Louth, Ireland
Years of service 1969–1998
Rank Chief of Staff of the Provisional Irish Republican Army
Commands held South Armagh Brigade
Provisional Irish Republican Army
Battles/wars The Troubles

Thomas "Slab" Murphy (Irish: Tomás Mac Murchaidh: born 26 August 1949[1]) is believed to be the former Chief of Staff of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.[2] His farm straddles County Armagh and County Louth, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.[3] One of three brothers, Murphy is a lifelong bachelor who lives on the Louth side of his farm.[3] In December 2015, Murphy was found guilty on nine counts of tax evasion following a lengthy investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau.[4]

IRA involvement

Murphy was allegedly involved with the South Armagh Brigade of the IRA before being elected Chief of Staff by the IRA Army Council.[5] Toby Harnden (ex-correspondent for the Daily Telegraph) named him as planning the Warrenpoint ambush of 1979, in which 18 British soldiers were killed, and he was also allegedly implicated in the Mullaghmore bombing the same day,[citation needed] which killed four people (including two children and Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma). Murphy was involved in smuggling in huge stockpiles of weapons from Libya in the 1980s[6] and was part of the army council that decided to end its first ceasefire with the London Canary Wharf Docklands bomb in 1996 that killed two men.[7]

Accused by the Sunday Times of directing an IRA bombing campaign in Britain, in 1987 Murphy unsuccessfully sued the paper for libel in Dublin[citation needed]. The original verdict was overturned by the court of appeal because of omissions in the judge's summing up and there was a retrial which he also lost. At the retrial, both Sean O'Callaghan and Eamon Collins, former members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, testified against him, as did members of the Gardaí, ROI customs officials, British Army and local TD Brendan McGahon. Collins, who also had written a book about his experiences, Killing Rage, was beaten and killed by having a spike driven through his face, near his home in Newry eight months later. In 1998, a Dublin court dismissed Murphy's case after a high-profile trial, during which Murphy stated that he had: "Never been a member of the IRA, no way" and claimed not to know where the Maze prison was.[citation needed]

The jury ruled, however, that he was an IRA commander and a smuggler.[7][8] The Sunday Times subsequently published statements given by Adrian Hopkins, the skipper who ferried weapons from Libya to the IRA, to the French authorities who intercepted the fifth and final Eksund shipment. Hopkins detailed how Murphy met a named Libyan agent in Greece, paid for the weapons to be imported, and helped unload them when they arrived in Ireland. According to A Secret History of the IRA by Ed Moloney, Murphy has been the IRA Army Council's Chief of Staff since 1997. Toby Harnden's Bandit Country: the IRA and South Armagh also details Murphy's IRA involvement.[citation needed]

Smuggling allegations and denials

In October 2005, officers of the British Assets Recovery Agency and the Irish Criminal Assets Bureau carried out raids on a number of businesses in Manchester and Dundalk.[9] It was extensively reported in the media that the investigation was aimed at damaging the suspected multi-million pound empire of Murphy, who according to the BBC's Underworld Rich List, has accumulated up to £40 million through smuggling oil, cigarettes, grain and pigs; as well as through silent or partial ownership in legitimate businesses and in property.[10]

A large, purpose-built underground torture chamber that Gardaí believe the PIRA used to interrogate and torture their victims was discovered on Murphy's farm.[11]

In his first-ever press release, issued on 12 October 2005, Murphy denied he owned any property and denied that he had any links with co-accused Cheshire businessman Dermot Craven (Frank Murphy, Thomas' brother, was a client of Cravens). Thomas Murphy stated:

I have been a republican all my life and fully support the peace process. I will continue to play whatever role I can, to see it work.

Furthermore, Murphy claimed that he had to sell property to cover his legal fees after his failed libel case against the Sunday Times and that he made a living from farming. He went on to say:

There is absolutely no foundation to the allegations about me which have been carried in the media for some time, and repeated at length over the past week, I want to categorically state, for the record, that all of these allegations are totally untrue."[12]

On 9 March 2006 police, soldiers and customs officials from both sides of the Irish border launched a large dawn raid on his house and several other buildings in the border region. Three persons were arrested by the Gardaí, but were released three days after. A fleet of tankers, computers, documents, two shotguns, over 30,000 cigarettes and the equivalent of 800,000 euros in sterling bank notes, euro bank notes and cheques were seized. Four laundering facilities attached to a major network of storage tanks, some of which were underground, were also found.[13] The Irish Criminal Assets Bureau later obtained seizure orders to take possession of euro cash and cheques and sterling cash and cheques, together worth around one million Euros.[14]

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams made a public statement in support of Murphy following the March 2006 raids. Under political and media pressure over allegations of the IRA's continued presence in South Armagh, Adams said:

Tom Murphy is not a criminal. He's a good republican and I read his statement after the Manchester raids and I believe what he says and also and very importantly he is a key supporter of Sinn Féin's peace strategy and has been for a very long time.[15]

He also said:

I want to deal with what is an effort to portray Tom Murphy as a criminal, as a bandit, as a gang boss, as someone who is exploiting the republican struggle for his own ends, as a multimillionaire. There is no evidence to support any of that.[16]

And also:

He's a good republican ... Tom Murphy was one of the supporters of this peace process.[17]

Assets seizure and settlement

Murphy was arrested in Dundalk, County Louth on 7 November 2007 by detectives from the Criminal Assets Bureau, on charges relating to alleged revenue offences. The following day, he was charged with tax evasion under the Tax Consolidation Act.[18][19] Murphy was later released on his own bail of €20,000 with an independent surety of €50,000.

On 17 October 2008, in an agreed legal settlement, Murphy and his brothers paid over £1 million in assets and cash to the authorities in Britain and the Republic, in settlement of a global crime and fraud investigation, relating to proceeds of crime associated with smuggling and money laundering. After an investigation involving the Irish Criminal Assets Bureau and the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency, over 625,000 euros (£487, 000) in cash and cheques was confiscated by the Republic's courts, while nine properties in northwest England worth £445,000 were confiscated by British courts.[2] Murphy is still fighting a claim in the Republic's courts for tax evasion, relating to non-completion of tax returns for eight years from 1996.

On 26 April 2010, he was further remanded on bail.[20]

In 2011, there were claims that Thomas Murphy had become disillusioned with the Northern Ireland peace process and that he had fallen out with Sinn Féin. However, there is no evidence to support he is sympathetic to any dissident republican groups. In March 2013, Gardaí and PSNI, along with members of the Irish Customs Authority and HMRC, raided Murphy's farm on the Louth-Armagh border. There was a report, that two hours prior to raid fire was seen coming from Murphy's yard, at around 4am, by the Sunday World.[21] There were serious concerns within the Garda and PSNI that a mole may have tipped off Murphy about the raid hours prior to it, as "Laptops, computer disks and a large amount of documentation had been destroyed in the fires." As a result, an internal Garda investigation took place.[22]

Tax evasion conviction

On 17 December 2015, Murphy was found guilty on nine charges of tax evasion by a 3-judge, non-jury Special Criminal Court trial sitting in Dublin, lasting nine weeks. He was tried under anti terrorist legislation due to the belief by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that there would not be a fair trial because of the potential of the intimidation of prosecution witnesses and the security surrounding the trial (in 1999, a man who testified against Murphy in court was bludgeoned to death after the trial).[23] Murphy was found guilty on all charges of failing to furnish tax returns on his income as a cattle farmer between 1996 and 2004. He was prosecuted on foot of a 14 year long CAB investigation, which during a raid of his property uncovered bags with over €250,000 and over £111,000 sterling in cash, along with documents, diaries and ledgers.[24] He was remanded on bail and will appear in early 2016 for sentencing.

References

  1. Harnden, Toby (1999). Bandit Country. Hodder & Stoughton. p. 27. ISBN 0-340-71736-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sharrock, David (17 October 2008). "Ex-IRA chief Thomas 'Slab' Murphy to hand over £1m criminal assets". London: The Times. Retrieved 17 October 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Owen Bowcott (10 March 2006). "Cross-border raid targets alleged IRA chief of staff". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 15 February 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Ryan, Phillip (19 December 2015). "IRA tax dodger Thomas 'Slab' Murphy was 'treated unfairly' by justice system - Gerry Adams". Irish Independent. Retrieved 20 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Harnden, Toby (1999). Bandit Country. Hodder & Stoughton. pp. 21–35. ISBN 0-340-71736-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Moloney, Ed A Secret History of the IRA. Allen Lane/Penguin Press, 2002, p. 21.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Gerry Moriarty (7 October 2005). "Authorities pursue criminal assets in latest bid to get their man". The Irish Times. Retrieved 15 February 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Raid on Alleged IRA Chief's Home". CBS News. 9 March 2006. Retrieved 15 February 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Court grants seizure of 1m euros". BBC News. 7 October 2005. Retrieved 15 February 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Underworld rich list". BBC News. 16 May 2004. Retrieved 15 February 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Williams, Paul (18 December 2015). "'Untouchable' IRA godfather was lionised by Sinn Féin". Irish Independent. Retrieved 24 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Arthur Beesley and Conor Lally (13 October 2005). "Murphy denies any links with Manchester firm". The Irish Times. Retrieved 15 February 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Enda Leahy and Nicola Tallant (12 March 2006). "'Slab' swoop nets €1m". London: The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 21 March 2007. Retrieved 15 February 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Court grants seizure of 1m euros". BBC News. 23 March 2006. Retrieved 15 February 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "'Slab' raid is trouble for Sinn Féin". London: The Times. 12 March 2006. Retrieved 15 February 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  16. David Adams (17 March 2006). "Drawing a Line Under the Past". The Blanket. Retrieved 30 October 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Alan Ruddock (28 October 2007). "Victim of a shabby trade-off". Irish Independent. Retrieved 30 October 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "'Slab' Murphy appears before Co Louth court". Radio Telefis Éireann. 8 November 2007. Retrieved 8 November 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "'Slab' Murphy in court on tax evasion charges". Irish Times. 8 November 2007. Retrieved 9 November 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "'Slab' Murphy remanded on bail". The Irish Times. 4 April 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/ira-chief-thomas-slab-murphy-quizzed-after-airborne-swoops-on-frontier-29129547.html
  22. Williams, Paul (17 December 2015). "IRA boss Murphy tipped off ahead of Garda raid". Irish Independent. Retrieved 17 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Moriarty, Gerry (20 December 2015). "Gerry Adams had little choice but to stand by 'Slab' Murphy". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. McDonald, Dearbhall (17 December 2015). "Thomas 'Slab' Murphy found guilty of tax evasion by Special Criminal Court". Irish Independent. Retrieved 17 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links