Monday, January 22, 2007
Police colluded with loyalists behind over a dozen murders in
north Belfast, a report by the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland
Nuala O'Loan's report said UVF members in the area committed
murders and other serious crimes while working as informers for
It said two retired assistant chief constables refused to cooperate
with the investigation.
Special Branch officers gave the killers immunity, it said.
The officers ensured the murderers were not caught and even "baby-sat"
them during police interviews to help them avoid incriminating
The Special Branch officers "created false notes" and
blocked searches for UVF weapons.
They also paid almost £80,000 to leading loyalist Mark
Haddock, jailed for 10 years last November for an attack on a
Responding to the report, Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde offered
an apology to the victims' families.
He said the report made "shocking, disturbing and uncomfortable
NI Secretary Peter Hain said: "I am convinced that at least
one prosecution will arise out of today's report."
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said republicans would "not
be surprised or shocked by the revelations".
"We think that it's an incentive that the mechanisms which
were put in place for accountability, which we put in place and
which we have argued for, now need to be deployed, not only to
make sure that this does not happen (again), but if it does, that
those guilty will be dealt with properly," he said.
The report, published on Monday, called for a number of murder investigations
to be re-opened.
But it is unlikely that any of the police officers involved will
be prosecuted - the ombudsman said that evidence was deliberately
destroyed to ensure there could not be prosecutions.
Nuala O'Loan said investigation was a lengthy task.
"What emerged during our inquiries was that all of the informants
at the centre of this investigation were members of the UVF,"
"There was no effective strategic management of these informants.
As a consequence of the practices of Special Branch, the position
of the UVF, particularly in north Belfast and Newtownabbey was
consolidated and strengthened over the years. How could this happen?"
Mrs O'Loan said former Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan was
interviewed by her office, but was unable to assist the investigation.
The report said: "Others, including some serving officers,
gave evasive, contradictory, and on occasion farcical answers
"On occasion those answers indicated either a significant
failure to understand the law, or contempt for the law."
The ombudsman's investigation began more than three years ago
when Belfast welder Raymond McCord claimed that his son, also
called Raymond, had been killed by a police informer.
The former RAF man, 22, was a member of the UVF who had some
involvement in drugs.
In 1977, he was beaten to death and his body dumped in a quarry.
Mr McCord has said he wants those who murdered his son to be put
He said he had received a death threat at the weekend from the
Among the investigations which could be re-opened are the murder
in north Belfast in 1992 of 27-year-old taxi driver Sharon McKenna,
who was shot at the home of an elderly friend.
The names of the police officers and the informers have not been
However, it is known that the main informer at the centre of
the investigation is Mark Haddock, who was named in the Irish
parliament 15 months ago as a UVF killer.
Some of the Special Branch officers criticised in the report have
rejected the ombudsman's allegations as "unfounded and incapable
In a statement, the Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers'
Association said they had always acted in the best interests of
the pursuit of justice and had nothing to be ashamed of.
The officers also challenged the ombudsman to disclose the details
of any evidence of their criminal behaviour discovered during