REAL IRA CHIEF KILLED OVER DRUGS PROFITS; EXCLUSIVE: Doubts Cast on Political Feud Theory

By Carton, Donna; Cassidy, John | Sunday Mirror (London, England), October 15, 2000 | Go to article overview

REAL IRA CHIEF KILLED OVER DRUGS PROFITS; EXCLUSIVE: Doubts Cast on Political Feud Theory


Carton, Donna, Cassidy, John, Sunday Mirror (London, England)


DETECTIVES are investigating a drugs link to the murder of Real IRA chief Joseph O'Connor.

They are probing a theory that the Provos carried out the killing because of a dispute over profits from drugs and racketeering.

The RUC has said officially that a motive for the murder has yet to be established.

But senior security sources claim it was not a feud between pro and anti-Agreement paramilitaries.

The shooting has caused political fall-out with unionists raising fresh doubts about the IRA ceasefire.

O'Connor was a key figure in the Real IRA, the group responsible for the Omagh bombing two years ago.

Said a senior security source: "There is intelligence that the murder was over profits from both drugs and racketeering.

"O'Connor's unit have been making a lot of money from drugs and the smuggling of cigarettes and alcohol.

"But he refused to give them any profits or pay them a levy.''

Earlier this year, O'Connor's uncle Anthony Nortorantonio was kidnapped by the IRA in west Belfast.

He was only released after O'Connor shot up the homes of IRA members in the Ballymurphy housing estate.

O'Connor's family are convinced the shooting was the work of the Provos.

His mother Margaret O'Connor said: "They were seen, locals saw them. People saw them with their masks on and with their masks off. They are a known Provo unit within the Ballymurphy district."

Police have discovered that the two gunmen changed their clothes in the grounds of the nearby Corpus Christi Catholic church where five men were waiting with suitcases to stash their clothes before removing them to be destroyed.

O'Connor, 26, a married father of three boys, had just left his mother's house on Whitecliff Parade and got into a car when the gunmen approached and shot him at point blank range. …

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