Appeal court to hear inquest challenge in December.

Martin McCaughey & Dessie Grew

Martin McCaughey & Dessie Grew

MORE than one informer is believed to provided information that led to the deaths of two IRA men shot dead 25 years ago today.

Dessie Grew (37) and former Sinn Féin councillor Martin McCaughey (23) were part of an IRA unit ambushed in Co Armagh by an undercover British army team.

The Irish News can reveal that a third IRA man narrowly escaped after he left the scene seconds before British soldiers, who were dug in around farm buildings, opened fire.

Members of the SAS are believed to have been involved in the attack.

Fresh details have emerged as republicans prepare to travel to east Tyrone this weekend where a series of events has been organised.

While it was previously reported that the two men were ambushed as they checked an arms dump, republican sources say the IRA members were checking a car which was to be used in an attack on the security forces in north Armagh the following day.

The car had been stolen days earlier from a hotel car park in Omagh by a republican sympathiser and brought to the isolated farmyard at Lislasley Road, near Loughgall, for storage.

Republicans believe the car thief, who was not a member of the IRA, tipped off security forces that an attack was being planned although he was not aware of where the vehicle was being stored.

They believe that other informers may also have provided information about the planned IRA attack.

Sources say that in the days after the ambush IRA members called at the man’s home but he had already fled and has never been seen in area since.

From Galbally in Co Tyrone, Martin McCaughey was an experienced IRA operator and had served as a Sinn Fein councillor in Dungannon.

Informed sources say it was not intended he would take part in the planned attack but was called in “at the last minute”.

At the time he was still recovering after being injured in a shoot-out with the SAS in Cappagh, Co Tyrone in March that year.

Republicans maintain that two SAS men were killed in the Cappagh operation, which followed a dramatic car chase around the rural area, although this was denied by the British army.

Former republican prisoner Dessie Grew, from Charlemont, Co Armagh, was wanted at the time for questioning by German authorities over the killing of an RAF corporal and his baby daughter in 1989.

The men’s families have always maintained they were victims of a deliberate “shoot to kill” policy at the time and could have been arrested.

It is believed some British soldiers involved in the McCaughey and Grew ambush may also have taken part in other fatal shootings.

Two automatic weapons were recovered at the scene but neither man had fired any shots.

Informed sources say that an IRA team inspected the car three days prior to the ambush and claim undercover British soldiers could have made arrests at that point.

Earlier this year the men’s families failed to have inquest verdicts quashed after a jury ruled in 2012 that the killings were justified.

The inquest found that the soldiers had used reasonable force and that the IRA men’s own actions had contributed to their deaths.

The Court of Appeal will consider the matter in December.

A solicitor for the families, Fearghal Shiels of Madden and Finucane Solicitors, said they will argue that the inquest was “fundamentally flawed, chiefly due to the coroner’s refusal to allow us to examine military witnesses and their roles in other similar fatal shootings and by his failure to permit such evidence being placed before the jury”.

A Night of Reflection, organised by the 1916 Societies, will be held in Galbally Community Centre at 8.30pm tonight while wreaths will be laid at the grave of Dessie Grew in Armagh City Cemetery at 2pm tomorrow.

An independent republican commemoration will also be held to Martin McCaughey’s grave in Galbally at 2pm on Sunday.

The Irish News