Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan has said that a report by the Police Ombudsman into the killings of 19 people across North Antrim and County Londonderry is further damning evidence of a policy of British state collusion with loyalist paramilitaries during the conflict.
The North Antrim MLA made the comments after the Police Ombudsman, Marie Anderson, published the findings of her investigation ‘Operation Greenwich’ into 19 loyalist killings and two attempted murders carried out by the loyalist UDA.
These included the murder of Gerard Casey in his home in Rasharkin, Malachy Carey in Ballymoney, Danny Cassidy in Kilrea, Tommy Donaghy in KIlrea, Bernard O’Hagan in Magherafelt, Robert Dalrymple, James Kelly, James McKenna and Noel O’Kane at Castlerock, John Burns, Moira Duddy, Joseph McDermott, James Moore, John Moyne, Steven Mullan, Karen Thompson and Samuel Montgomery at Greysteel, Eddie Fullerton in Buncrana, Patrick Shanaghan in Castlederg as well as the attempted murder of James McCorriston in Coleraine and Patrick McErlain in Dunloy.
“I welcome the publication of this report by the Police Ombudsman. It has vindicated what the families and many Nationalists and Republicans have suspected for years – that British state forces had been working with the loyalist gangs across North Antrim and County Derry who killed their loved ones.
“However, the sheer scale of collusion between the British state and the loyalist paramilitaries contained in the report is still a shock and my thoughts today are with the families and the loved ones of the victims of these killings.
“The Ombudsman’s investigation shows that collusion between British state forces and the UDA’s North Antrim/Derry was systemic. It claimed the lives of 19 people, including Sinn Féin elected representatives and election workers.
“The report shows that the British state assisted in importing South African weapons which were used in at least ten of the killings. Some of these weapons were given to the UDA by Ulster Resistance, a group established by senior members of the DUP leadership.
• State agents and informers working inside the UDA were directly involved in a number of killings and were allowed to continue to kill.
• The RUC knew that members of the UDR were directly involved in killings but allowed them to remain in the British army.
• Information was passed on to the murder gangs by RUC and UDR personnel, some of whom attended high level briefings despite the fact the RUC were aware they were passing information on to the loyalist gangs.
• The RUC failed to warn some victims that they were aware of threats to their lives.
• No action was taken about the failure of state agents to pass on intelligence about murders to their RUC Special Branch handlers and they were allowed to continue their activities unimpeded.
• RUC files on the activities of agents and informers involved in the killings were destroyed to prevent proper investigation of their role.”The report stated that despite the murder of Gerard Casey in April 1989, the RUC made little effort to disrupt the activities of the UDA in this area until 1992 allowing them to commit further murders.
“The report also concluded that lots of recovered documentation from loyalists included material that originated from military sources. The Ombudsman is clear in her opinion that the UDA were receiving information from a number of former or serving members of the military.
“Indeed in the case of Rasharkin man Gerard Casey the Ombudsman states that a serving UDR officer who attended intelligence briefing was known to have passed on information about Gerard Casey to the UDA. This UDR officer was never questioned about Gerard’s murder.
“This report provides further evidence why the current British government is proposing an amnesty for its state forces, an end to investigations and preventing victims from accessing the courts and due process.
“The families of the victims of these killings investigated by the Ombudsman, like all bereaved in the conflict, are entitled to know the truth about the deaths of their loved ones and should not have to wait any longer for truth and justice.”