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jailhouse plot IRA blocked prison hit on loyalist serial killer Robin 'The Jackal' Jackson, ex-inmate reveals

'The Jackal' played a central role in the Miami Showband massacre and was also involved in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings

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Robin Jackson

Robin Jackson

Robin Jackson

IRA bosses vetoed a prison plot to assassinate the most prolific loyalist serial killer of the entire Troubles, it emerged this week.

UVF triggerman Robin 'The Jackal' Jackson is believed to have killed more Catholics than any other Protestant paramilitary - at least 50 innocent people - during decades of terror.

Now a former IRA prisoner has revealed that inmates drew up a detailed plan to murder him in the Maze Prison, but when they asked for permission from the terror group's leaders on the outside, they were overruled.

Seamus Kearney reveals full details of the Jackal murder blueprint in his recently published jail journal No Greater Love, which relives the blanket protest and hunger strike.

And he also expresses real regret at the IRA leadership's decision to allow Jackson to leave jail a free man, because the Mid-Ulster UVF commander went on another major killing spree in subsequent years.

Kearney states: "Tragically, after his release, Jackson resumed his activities and by the time of his death in June 1998 from lung cancer, it is estimated that he had killed over 50 people. He had finally become the most prolific killer in the North and I regretted that fact."

A former UDR soldier, 'The Jackal' played a central role in the Miami Showband massacre and was also involved in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings which claimed the lives of 34 people in one day.

He assassinated many innocent Catholics in their homes, spreading terror through Mid-Ulster for decades. It's widely reported that during this time he was working for British military intelligence.

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Belongings of the Miami showband members lie in the foreground as police officers examine the scene of the ambush of the band's minibus on the road

Belongings of the Miami showband members lie in the foreground as police officers examine the scene of the ambush of the band's minibus on the road

Belongings of the Miami showband members lie in the foreground as police officers examine the scene of the ambush of the band's minibus on the road

In 1982, Jackson was banged up in the Maze Prison for two years for possession of a gun.

He found himself sharing a wing with hardened IRA veterans who were all well aware of his past as a UVF killer. Many of them recently witnessed 10 of their comrades die on hunger strike just a year before in a bid to be recognised as political prisoners.

Kearney had led an IRA unit in Lenadoon in west Belfast before he was captured in 1977 and jailed for 14 years after a botched bid to kill a UDR soldier.

Refusing to wear prison clothes, he was sent to the notorious H-Blocks where he spent four years as an IRA blanket man protesting against draconian conditions.

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But according to his book, it was as IRA adjutant to republican prisoners sharing a wing with loyalists and ordinary criminals that Kearney first crossed swords with the notorious UVF killer Jackson.

Jackson had settled down to life on the H1 wing at the Maze and, as a conforming model prisoner, he was planning to get out of jail as soon as possible. But his role as a senior terrorist on the outside was recognised as Jackson was appointed leader of the UVF prisoners in the wing.

Kearney writes: "I was informed by my source that Jackson had already murdered at least 27 Catholics and was being used by the Brits to elimate certain targets, and would resume his murderous campaign upon his release in about two years' time.

"It was emphasised to me most strongly that Jackso should never leave Long Kesh, as more innocent Catholics would inevitably die at his hands.

"I passed on my concerns to Pat McGeown (the late former hunger striker who was OC of the wing), who dutifully reported the issue to higher authorities, and then informed me of the verdict - Jacko was not be be killed in prison."

Kearney adds: "Tragically, after his release, Jackson resumed his activities and by the time of his death in June 1998 from lung cancer, it is esimated that he had killed over 50 people. He had finally become the most prolific killer in the North and I regretted that fact."

Kearney also reveals how IRA prisoners targeted Jackson as they tried to force loyalists to back their campaign for segregation.

They wanted loyalists to voluntarily 'lock-up' in their own cells, a move which would have forced the Governor to introduce segregation.

Kearney recalls how one IRA 'lifer' who had just joined the wing walked straight over to Jackson in the canteen, shoved him off his chair and began eating his meal.

The hardened IRA prisoner told him: "Jacko my auld son, you better lock up or I'll lock you up myself."

Jackson then asked to meet Keaney for talks to resolve the situation, but the loyalist was simply told again to order his men to lock-up, which he refused to do.

Kearney tells how the IRA prisoners in all eight H-Blocks then ordered loyalists to smash their cells and told them they would be attacked if they left the cells, with Kearney shouting that message to the loyalists in his wing.

"Jacko replied, 'I don't take orders from the Provo IRA'," Kearney writes, adding: "Suddenly, after midnight, the loyalists in the far wing began to break their windows and smash up their cell furniture, much to my relief.

"To rapturous applause from the republicans, the loyalists were cheered on, as the noise became deafening, with one cell after another losing its glass windows.

"Within 20 minutes, the riot squad arrived, only this time it was to confront the loyalists and not us, as after all, we were now conforming prisoners."

Kearney says the loyalists were then removed to their own wing, but Jackson still refused to budge. "As for Robin Jackson, the guards had a problem with him, because he refused to damage his furniture or slop out his urine, insisting he would never comply with an IRA order. When it was explained to Jackson by a Class Officer that he would be left behind in a wing full of IRA prisoners if he didn't wreck his cell, Jackson went into a frenzy, accusing the prison officers of colluding with the Provo IRA.

"In the end the Class Officer entered Jackson's cell and kicked over his chamber pot, blaming him on doing it and pushing him out of the block and onto the bus, despite his protestations."

Kearney adds: "The battle for segregation was over. We had won."

Jackson was soon released and returned to lead his UVF killer gang. One journalist dubbed The Jackal "the Lord High Executioner of the North's notorious murder triangle" and he was known for "the intensity and fury of his instinct to kill".

A former UDR soldier who had served with Jackson described him as a sectarian killer who had a visceral hatred of Catholics but that "you were always glad to have him with you when you were out on patrol".

psychopath

Intelligence officers personally acquainted with Jackson stated that he was a psychopath who would often dress up and attend the funerals of his victims because he felt a need "to make sure they were dead".

Psychological warfare operative Major Colin Wallace corroborated the allegations, stating that "everything people had whispered about Robin Jackson for years was perfectly true. He was a hired gun. A professional assassin.

"He was responsible for more deaths in the North than any other person I knew. The Jackal killed people for a living. The state not only knew that he was doing it. Its servants encouraged him to kill its political opponents and protected him."

Republican sources said the decision to veto the killing of The Jackal in the Maze was because they feared loyalists would strike back at top republicans inside the prison.

During the Troubles, prisons enjoyed an unofficial truce between the IRA and loyalists.

That was broken in 1991 when the IRA killed two loyalists inside Crumlin Road prison with a Semtex bomb hidden behind a radiator.

It's believed that attack was given the go-ahead from the organisation's Army Council as retaliation after loyalists shot up a minibus carrying women and children who were visiting republican prisoners.

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