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The Committee. Political Assassination in Northern Ireland.

Sean McPhilemy. Roberts Rinehart, Col. USA. ISBN 1-57098-211-2 $24.95

IN OCTOBER 1992, Channel 4 transmitted a Dispatches programme which claimed that a secret organisation of loyalist paramilitaries, top police officers, unionist business figures, lawyers and politicians were conspiring to murder Catholics and republicans. The author of this book, Sean McPhilemy was the producer of the original TV documentary. In order to repeat and expand upon his original allegations he has published this book in the United States but it isn't too difficult to get hold of a copy in Ulster in these days of the internet and holidays in Florida. To put it kindly, McPhilemy's evidence is very shaky, based as it is on the testimony of one man - Jim Sands. Sands lived in Portadown and was the secretary of the local branch of the Ulster Independence Committee. He was also a contact with the Lurgan-based Sunday World journalist, Martin O'Hagan, to whom he regularly fed titbits of gossip. He claimed that the secret committee had sixty members and met regularly in halls up and down Ulster to plan killings and that it was controlled by the UIC which had 22 members on it  

Half of the persons named in the book were Sands' fellow UIC members in 1992 and others were well known figures in loyalist and unionist circles. The idea that a fringe group such as the UIC (now the UIM) could exercise such influence over the loyalist paramilitary groups and the RUC is preposterous! This book is utter nonsense but it could have dangerous repercussions for the people named in it. McPhilemy prints the home addresses of some and the workplaces of others which should come in handy for would-be assassins who might take his allegations seriously. As we go to press, news has come in that two businessmen named by Sands and McPhilemy - the Prentice car dealers in Portadown, have sued the author and the publisher for damages of $120 million. They deserve to win every penny!

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