05 March 2006

Omagh informer removed from witness protection

Belfast Telegraph

Alan Murray
05 March 2006

A Dublin car-thief, who allegedly warned gardai that the Real IRA was planning a 'spectacular' just days before the Omagh bombing, has been removed from a witness protection scheme.

Paddy Dixon, who fled to England after his role as a Garda informer was exposed four years ago, is understood to have lost the protection he was given by his former handlers.

The revelation has prompted fears among Omagh victims' relatives that Dixon's life could be in danger from dissident republicans.

Suspended Garda detective sergeant John White - Dixon's handler - has said that Dixon told him that the Real IRA asked him to steal a Vauxhall car for use in a bombing in Northern Ireland in August 1998, but then told him not to bother because one had been obtained.

White has claimed that he processed the information through the Garda intelligence system just days before the attack, but no alert was passed to the RUC, because his bosses feared they would blow Dixon's cover.

Relatives of the 29 people murdered in Omagh were told 10 days ago that the warning was passed onto the Garda but - incredibly - not to the RUC.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was murdered in the explosion, said he was concerned that Dixon was now at greater risk from attack by the Real IRA and could be silenced, so he can never make a full statement about his knowledge of the attack.

Said Mr Gallagher: "We understand that Paddy Dixon has been removed from the Garda witness protection programme and may have returned to Ireland to live.

"Obviously, we are anxious that what he knows of the Real IRA's plan for the bombing is documented to the police and to our own lawyers as soon as possible.

"We are now very concerned about Dixon's safety. We don't want to read in the papers that he has been found in a ditch at the side of a road in the Republic with a bullet in his head."

Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson, who has taken a particular interest in the Omagh case, said: "I have been told by reliable sources in Dublin that Paddy Dixon is no longer protected under this scheme and that concerns me.

"I am also alarmed at the nature of the information given to the Omagh relatives about MI5's knowledge of the Real IRA's intentions prior to the attack.

"We need to know why MI5 informed the Garda of a potential attack within the United Kingdom, but did not tell the RUC."

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