Ex-Provo accuses Sinn Fein of covering up priest's abuse.
A former leading IRA man, who was a security chief for X Factor boss, Simon Cowell has accused Sinn Fein of helping to cover up the sexual abuse of "hundreds" of schoolboys by a now-deceased priest.
Brendan Curran, a former Irish Army-trained sniper - who was jailed aged 18 in 1973 for 15 years for attempting to murder a British soldier - made the sensational claims as he announced his resignation from Newry and Mourne District Council at a meeting last week.
Mr Curran said he was prevented 10 years ago from exposing the allegations by a leading well-known Sinn Fein figure.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent after the tumultuous council meeting, Mr Curran said: "This priest is dead now, but he was in every school in the Newry area for years and abused children in every one of them. People have been coming forward."
"I raised it with the Republican movement 10 years ago and was told to drop it; it was a negative story, to drop it; it was a negative issue."
Mr Curran added: "The leadership was aware of this being raised."
Mr Curran's fellow councillors were completely taken aback by his bombshell statement.
Witnesses told the Sunday Independent that rival SDLP and Unionist politicians applauded Mr Curran after he finished speaking.
Local UKIP councillor, Henry Reilly, wrote on his Facebook page minutes after the meeting: "Absolutely incredible scenes in the Council Chamber tonight - Cllr Brendan Curran announced his resignation and made very damaging allegations against former Sinn Fein colleagues. He alleged that he had advised Sinn Fein of a paedophile priest who had abused 100's of children in Newry and was instructed not to disclose this information. He alleged that local republicans referred to murdered Mum of 10 Jean McConville as an executed Tout. It was an extraordinary event and the allegations will be very damaging for Sinn Fein."
Mr Reilly was unavailable to comment further when contacted by the Sunday Independent.
However, a source close to the ex-Ulster Unionist said: "We saw it. It was unreal, boy. We've never witnessed anything like it, in all our lives."
The day after the council meeting, Mr Curran told the local Newry Reporter newspaper that he was forced to "drop the issue".
He did not state if he had been personally threatened after making his explosive claims, or who told him to "drop" the matter.
Mr Curran told the newspaper that the local Sinn Fein community had been dominated by a "small, domineering clique who try to remove opposition by gang mentality".
Sinn Fein told the local paper: "If Brendan Curran or anyone else has any information regarding sexual abuse, past or present, they have a responsibility to bring this to either the PSNI or An Garda Siochana."
Sinn Fein did not respond to specific queries from this newspaper relating to Mr Curran's claims at the time of going to print.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland this weekend confirmed it would investigate Mr Curran's claims.
Chief superintendent George Clarke told the Sunday Independent: "We cannot comment on individual cases. However, we will treat all allegations seriously and investigate them fully. We would encourage anyone with allegations to come forward and contact police."
Mr Curran represented Sinn Fein for 30 years on the Newry council before he left the party in 2013 after complaining of "isolation and bullying".
He had been synonymous with the Provisional IRA and the Sinn Fein leadership of Gerry Adams for decades.
However, the former Sinn Fein councillor is now considering contesting the forthcoming Westminster election.
His main rival is expected to be former All-Ireland-winning footballer Justin McNulty, who is standing on the SDLP ticket in Newry and Armagh.
The ex-Provo boasts openly of his IRA connections on his Facebook page, on which he says he studied at the "Long Kesh Univeristy [sic] of Freedom".
After his release from jail in 1980, Mr Curran moved into politics for the party, and in the 1990s, headed up the party's move into the security industry.
In the recent past, he has been a certified bodyguard for the X Factor's Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Ant and Dec and David Walliams, and Boyzone's Ronan Keating and other top celebrities, setting up his own Pro-Tec Safety and Events Company Ltd.
Since his move into the security business, Mr Curran has provided security to some of the biggest artists in the movie and music world and is pictured on his Facebook page astride a massive, stg£30k Harley-Davidson. In 2010, he was pictured acting as glamour model Jordan's bodyguard during a book signing at Eason's in Belfast. The ex-IRA man also provided security at the 2010 funeral of the late RTE presenter Gerry Ryan.
His security firm also helped to marshall the St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin last Tuesday.