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ireland, irish, ulster, ireland, irish, ulster, Sinn Féin, Irish America

The CIRA commander and the Protestant pastor

(Suzanne Breen, Sunday Life)

A former loyalist paramilitary who scalded Tommy Crossan in Maghaberry prison says he was a man lacking any political beliefs whom nobody in the jail trusted.

Pastor Clifford Peeples threw boiling water over Crossan after the republican prisoner yelled "I'm going to cut your throat, I'm going to kill you," at him in November 1999.

Arrested by police near Dungannon with hand grenades and a pipe bomb in his car, Peeples was only a few days on remand in Maghaberry when Crossan issued the threats.

But the Protestant pastor says after he scalded Crossan, the republican tried to build bridges between them and to befriend loyalist prisoners.

"He said 'Clifford, we're in here doing time together, I don't want any trouble between us from now on'. He started coming over to chat to loyalists regularly.

"He was very smarmy. He'd even discuss other republican prisoners with us. At first we thought it was a wind up and then we reckoned he was playing us. His main goal in life seemed to be making money. He never talked politics.

"I don't know how he ended up in jail for trying to kill policemen because he didn't seem to have a political bone in his body. His heart wasn't in any struggle. He was hated by other republican prisoners.

"John Connolly (the Real IRA commander in Maghaberry) couldn't stand him. Nobody in jail liked or trusted him, not even the crims."

April 21, 2014
________________

This article appeared in the April 20, 2014 edition of the Sunday Life.

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