COLIN DUFFY: “SARÒ SEMPRE UN ATTIVISTA REPUBBLICANO”
Duffy – My sorrow over shot soldiers
Republican dissident Colin Duffy says he pities the young British soldiers murdered at Massereene.
But he added: “They shouldn’t have been here in this country. And I wasn’t there when they died.”
In an exclusive Sunday World interview before a planned press conference yesterday, he denied all involvement in the double murder of Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar.
He agreed that despite his acquittal many people still believed he was guilty: “There’s nothing I can do to change that except continue saying I’m innocent and pointing out that there was no evidence to convict me.”
He insisted: “I played no part in the attack at Massereene. It’s very sad British soldiers are still being killed on the streets of the North but they shouldn’t be here.”
Duffy refused outright to condemn the attack. But the leading republican added that he fully understood the grief of the murdered soldiers’ families.
“I was in court, I saw the families and I understand how much they’ve suffered. It would take a very cold and inhuman person not to be moved by their loss.
“Two young soldiers from working-class areas of England – with zero knowledge of the North who probably didn’t even know their lives were at risk here – were killed.
“They were cannon fodder as far as the British Army is concerned. I’ve lost friends in the conflict. My friend Sam Marshall was shot dead in front of me so I know what it’s like to lose someone.”
But asked to condemn the attack, Duffy replied: “No I won’t do that. I’m a republican. I make no bones about that.
“I am an unrepentant republican. I wasn’t involved in Massereene and it’s up to those who were to justify their actions but I won’t condemn them.”
When asked if he’d condemn dissident republicans’ continuing campaign of violence, Duffy also refused: “I understand why people are doing it. That doesn’t mean I’m doing it.
“But while Britain remains in the North, there will always be people who resist British rule.”
The Lurgan republican claimed he’d been “framed” by the state for the Massereene attack. “When I was arrested and all through my bail hearings in court, they alleged I was one of the gunmen.
“Then analysis of CCTV footage showed the gunmen were 6 ft 3 and 6 ft 6. I’m 5″11. Two witnesses didn’t pick me out in an ID parade and a surviving soldier also said the gunman was at least 6ft and in his 20s or 30s when I’m in my 40s.
“So the state just withdrew its allegation I was a gunman and said I must have played some other role but they never specified what that was.
“They couldn’t because I wasn’t involved in the attack. I was found not guilty because the whole case didn’t make sense from the beginning.”
Duffy’s DNA was found on a glove finger-tip in the gunmen’s getaway car. But that didn’t stand up in court as evidence to convict him. He says he was “framed” and evidence was “planted”.
He claimed the forensic evidence against him was “low copy DNA which was totally discredited in the Omagh bomb”.
He alleged the state had wanted “a head on the plate” for the Massereene murders and “as a high-profile republican, I fitted the bill”.
He claimed the authorities also targeted him because he was an outspoken critic of the police and a witness in the 1990 loyalist murder of republican Sam Marshall in which there was security force collusion.
It’s the third time Duffy has been charged with murder for the charges to be dropped or him acquitted.
He denied he was the “luckiest man in the North” for beating three murder charges. “I’ve spent eight years of my life in jail – that’s the equivalent of a 16 year sentence with remission – but I’ve never been convicted of anything. How is that lucky?” he said.
“I’ve just spent almost three years in Maghaberry jail where prisoners are being forcibly strip-searched and beaten. There’s a dirty protest taking place and the prison is a hell-hole. I don’t know how anybody could call that lucky.”
Duffy accused the police, the intelligence services and certain politicians of “demonising” him and “felon-setting”. He added: “I know a certain picture of me is planted in some people’s minds. It’s wrong, I’ll challenge it, but if I can’t change it I’ll have to live with it.”
Once a strong supporter of Sinn Féin, Duffy opposed the party in recent years over its support for the current political process. Its “silence” on his case and the campaign by supporters to free him had been conspicuous, he said.
The 43-year-old republican said he would spending the next few months rebuilding his family life but would remain politically involved.
“I’ve six children, the youngest of whom is eight so I’ll be busy with them. But I am, always have been and intend to remain, a committed republican political activist.”