News by email Donate


Top Stories

Most Read

Popular Videos

World News

Catholic priest generated money for IRA

by Press Association

Patrick Ryan helped secure munitions from Libya which were intercepted by the Irish navy off the coast of Ireland, according to BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight programme.

Ryan travelled with former IRA commander Joe Cahill to Tripoli. A five tonne shipment of weapons on board the Claudia was to follow.

He said: "I would have liked to have been much more effective than I was but we did not do too badly."

The former East Africa missionary from the Republic of Ireland initially worked as a parish priest and contributed money to the republican cause while doing so.

He was approached by IRA leaders who asked him to work for them permanently. He was no longer a parish priest while associated with the Provisionals.

He told Spotlight: "They asked me to travel the world and try to get info."

In 1973 he was sent to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's Tripoli along with IRA chief of staff Cahill.

Ryan spent the next 10 years visiting Libya and Europe, using a camper van to travel all over Europe raising money, the Spotlight programme said.

He deposited cash in a Swiss bank account for use by the IRA.

He said: "We were doing considerable business with the bank... exchanging unusual sums of money."

He also discovered timers which made it easier for IRA men to arm their bombs without being killed themselves, Spotlight said.

Those became a component in the republican organisation's bomb-making technology.

One was used to detonate the 1984 bomb at the Tory party conference in Brighton.

Fragments of the timer were recovered from the rubble.

The extent of Ryan's role was revealed by discussions between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Irish Taoiseach, Spotlight said.

The programme said documents revealed that Thatcher considered Ryan to be the main channel between the IRA and Libya for a decade.

She described him as a "very dangerous man" with an expert knowledge of bombing.

He said he regretted that he was not even more effective.

He told Spotlight: "One way or another I had a hand in most of them."

Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History airs on Tuesday September 24 on BBC One NI and BBC Four at 9pm.

Stay up to date with the latest news stories from a Christian perspective. Sign up to our daily newsletter and receive more stories like this straight to your inbox every morning.

Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

A Monthly Gift Of £5 Makes A World Of Difference

In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.

Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the UK is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.

For a monthly gift of £5 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.

Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.

Set up a monthly gift

Related Articles

Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed with news from a Christian perspective.