Pádraig Ó Seanacháin 20th Anniversary Commemorative Events
Published: 2 August, 2011
Events to remember collusion victim Paddy Shanaghan
Tuesday 2nd August 2011
To mark the 20th Anniversary of Paddy's death, the Sinn Fein West Tyrone Commemoration Committee has organised a wide programme of events which will run from the 10th-13th August at the Aghyaran Centre which will not only bring a renewed focus on the extent of collusion in the case but which will also act as a celebration of Paddy's life and particularly all aspects of Irish culture that he cherished so much. (See programme of events attached)
One of the main organisers of the Commemorative Events is local Sinn Fein Councillor Kieran Mc Guire and in extending and invitation for as many people as possible to come along to the events and to show solidarity with the Shanaghan family he said,
"Paddy Shanaghan exemplified remarkable integrity and courage in the face of overwhelming adversity and if the agencies of British State thought that by killing him they could extinguish all that Paddy stood for it only has to look at the massive interest that has already been shown in these landmark commemorative events to see how mistaken they were.
These events include: a Photographic Exhibition; Display of Remembrance Quilt; Book Launch-'Stepping out of line;' Talk on Collusion, a memorial mass; graveside commemoration; Céili and oldtyme dancing including Paddy Shanaghan Jig; unveiling of memorial and traditional music, song & storytelling session.
The compelling case of British State Collusion in killing of Paddy Shanaghan
Paddy's death had been the culmination of ten year campaign that had been waged against this defiant Tyrone republican by the RUC, UDR and British Army.
Paddy lived with his elderly, widowed mother (now deceased) on the family farm near the loyalist village of Killen and this ensured, in the initial stages, that he attracted the attention of his uniformed neighbours in the hope that the Shanaghan family land would have no male successor.
He endured all the insults, the road blocks, raids and wanton damage to his home and property on 16 occasions, the death threats, beatings and torture in various interrogation centres on ten different occasions between 1985-91, as well as an earlier assassination attempt at his home in 1989.
In spite all this, Paddy remained defiant and resolute attending to his religious duties, his beloved Ceilis, Fleadh Ceoil, and the role he proudly played in Sinn Fein and in republican commemorations. While he possessed a steely determination Paddy was friendly and gentle and had many, many friends. One of these was a non-catholic female, who, because she had been seen talking to him was taken with her parents to Castlederg RUC station and warned as to what could happen to her.
Paddy was killed on the day following his 32nd birthday while setting out to his place of work at the DoE Roads Service yard in Castlederg. His work involved driving a hedge cutter throughout the area, and , many times during his days work he was ordered off his tractor by the so-called security forces to be body-searched and humiliated in every way-even to separating his sandwiches for inspection. On many mornings as he headed off to work he was stopped at the foot of his own lane by the UDR and held for long periods. Each vehicle that he owned was checked regularly for defects in the hope of taking him to court by the RUC- but no defects were ever found. So intense was the RUC and UDR's hatred of this Republican that when they were unable to cower him they turned their attention on any DoE worker who worked alongside him with the result that his workmates and bosses left him to work on his own.
In May 1991 while being held in Castlereagh, detectives named to Paddy the individual who they claimed would be responsible for his death. On his release, the RUC laughingly informed him that he was being officially informed that he was in imminent danger from loyalist paramilitaries. Paddy did not underestimate the danger that existed and took as many precautions as possible including installing security lighting at his home which was then vandalised by the so-called security forces.
In the months prior to the killing Paddy was told by the RUC that his name, photo montage and personal details had been ``lost'' from a British Army vehicle. ``Loyalists in Castlederg know you now and they will get you,'' Paddy was told by the RUC.
In the days prior to his death Paddy had been busy bailing hay on the family farm. One field had already been interfered with and on the Sunday the RUC arrived and would not leave until the names and addresses of those helping Paddy had been given to them. The RUC made a particular point of saying goodbye to Paddy as they left.
On the morning of Paddy's death an army helicopter was nearby and the RUC were both above and below the spot on the Learmore Road were Paddy was killed. Shortly later approximately 20 shots were fired at his van as he drove along the road on his way to work and Patrick was fatally wounded in an attack which was later claimed by the UFF..
At the scene of the shooting, British crown forces displayed and openly callous attitude : A witness who approached Patrick Shanaghan's van after the shooting believed the injured man was still alive. If he was, the RUC made sure the dying man did not receive any medical assistance. No ambulance was called to the scene. A local doctor was denied access by the RUC. The force's Inspector Moore dismissed the medic; he had checked Shanaghan himself and he was dead. A parish priest, Fr. Maginn, was also denied access by the RUC.
The RUC later claimed that access had been denied in the interests of preserving the ``scene of crime'' yet beyond denying access to those who might have assisted the injured man, diligence was not something which characterised the RUC investigation of the murder.
According to an independent forensic scientist, the RUC failed to carry out basic procedures at the scene of crime. Darryl Manners, a former forensic scientist for the British Home Office, examined photographs taken by the RUC at the request of the Shanaghans' solicitor.
The scientist criticised the RUC's failure to take a plaster cast of a tyre impression at the crime scene. The photographs were inadequate, he said. Manners' evidence was restricted during the inquest hearing after the RUC sought a judicial review challenging the coroner's initial decision to allow evidence which questioned ``the quality and adequacy of the police investigation''. This was not relevant, the RUC claimed, and the court agreed.
In a written statement, one RUC officer said he had been called to the scene of the shooting at 8am. He later changed his evidence to between 8.20am and 8.30am. Patrick Shanaghan was shot at 8.20am. Curiously, the RUC sent three vehicles to the scene of a nonfatal car accident just 20 minutes before the shooting but only dispatched one vehicle to the shooting.
Paddy's killing was nominally claimed by the UFF but the inadequate investigations, inquest delays and restrictions, lack of disclosure to the families of the victim, a reluctance to make arrests and the failure of the DPP to prosecute could not disguise the glaring collusion in Paddy's death.
The inquest into Paddy's death was held 5 years after the event. This proved to be such a farce as it raised many more questions than it answered. The contempt shown for the entire proceedings by the RUC raised so much anger in the local community of Aghyaran and Castlederg that local people decided to hold their own inquiry into what happened. The inquiry, chaired by Catríona Ruane, and presided over by Honourable judge Andrew Somers, received submissions from Fr Des Wilson, Paul Mageean, CAJ) martin Finucance (Pat Finucance Centre) and Jane Winter (British Irish rights Watch). They concluded that in the death of Patrick Shanaghan all evidence pointed loudly to collusion, at the hands of the British government, and specifically the RUC. These findings were subsequently re-enforced in May 2001, when the European court indicted the British government for its role in his killing.
In a statement issued after the killing of her son, Mary Shanaghan described it as ``clear that the RUC do not want a proper investigation of the circumstances surrounding Patrick's murder. ``As in life,'' she said, ``Patrick was in death denied the most basic of human rights.''