Robert Nairac

Robert Nairac

Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson, of the Portadown UVF, was the most notorious assassin of the Troubles. Virtually all commentators on those turbulent times believe he was a British agent, run by the RUC special branch. He was a key member of the so-called Glenanne gang.

Jackson led the UVF team responsible for the Miami Showband massacre in 1975. In December 2021, the British government paid £1.5m to the surviving members of the group and the relatives of those who perished. One factor in the collapse of the State’s defence was the discovery of a document that placed Captain Robert Nairac, a British Army undercover operative, at the scene of the atrocity (see The Phoenix 31/1/20).

The state defendants in the Miami Showband case allege that the £1.5m payment was made without an admission of liability. This was nothing more than a face-saving exercise.

The UK police inquiry, Operation Denton, is presently looking at the activities of Jackson and the Glenanne gang, which encompasses the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in May 1974. The burning issue for the probe is whether any of them were British agents.

Unfortunately, Operation Denton has yet to re-interview Colin Wallace, a former British psychological operations officer who worked at British Army HQ in the 1970s. He has much knowledge of the gang (see The Phoenix 22/3/2024). The inquiry was meant to finish its inquiries in the spring and report next June.

Meanwhile, the families of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings are pursuing their action against the British state.

The Jackal was involved in that atrocity too. He drove the bombs used in the attack to Dublin. The British state brought an application before the High Court in Belfast seeking to have the action by the families struck out on a variety of grounds. The motion was rejected earlier this month.

It is perplexing that the UK threw in the towel over the Miami Showband massacre – led by Jackson – yet is fighting tooth and nail over the Dublin and Monaghan atrocity – also involving Jackson. All going well, the lawyers in the Dublin and Monaghan case will be able to produce the Nairac document, which shows the British captain was linked to Jackson and the Portadown UVF, when the hearing takes place.

In the legal action taken by the families and survivors of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the NIO and MoD denied any involvement with the UVF gang in that atrocity. So they could hardly have admitted to the officers from Operation Denton that Jackson or any of his pack were British agents. Operation Denton, therefore, is unlikely to confirm that British agents were members of the Glenanne gang.

A new documentary on the atrocity, 17-May-74 Anatomy of a Massacre, will receive its premiere at the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield, Dublin, on May 10.

Related Articles: