“Lethal Allies” lifts the lid on security forces collusion

October 28, 2013

A damning new book published last week claims to have uncovered “indisputable evidence of security forces collusion” in the murders of more than 100 people in Northern Ireland during the 1970s.

“Lethal Allies – British Collusion in Ireland”, written by Ann Cadwallader, a researcher with the Pat Finucane Centre, contains extracts from unpublished reports by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) which refer to evidence that RUC officers and members of the UDR were part of the infamous Glenanne Gang, operating from two farms in south Armagh and Tyrone, that killed 120 people between 1972 and 1976.

While allegations of collusion between members of the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries are nothing new, Cadwallader’s book claims to have uncovered irrefutable evidence of the huge scale of collusion and points the finger at the highest levels of the security forces and the government for whom, it alleges, “collusion in these areas was not a significant concern.”

One of the unpublished HET reports regarding the 1976 attack on the Three Steps Inn in Keady, reveals evidence that the RUC knew a bomb was being stored at a farmhouse owned by a serving police officer and that an army surveillance operation on the property was ended ahead of the bomb being used in the attack which killed two people, injuring twenty two.

It further claims that no suspects were ever questioned or arrested for the atrocity despite the fact that RUC Special Branch knew the identities of four people involved in the bombing.

The families of the two victims, 38-year-old Elizabeth McDonald and Gerard McGleenan, 22, have lodged complaints with the Police Ombudsman and have called on the police to finally admit the level of RUC involvement in the attack.

Cullyhanna man, Alan Brecknell, a panellist on the Victims and Survivors Forum and manager of the Pat Finucane centre in Newry, believes the book is of utmost importance in exposing the truth about collusion and helping victims deal with the past.

Alan’s father Trevor was killed in December 1975 alongside Patsy Donnelly and fourteen year old Michael Donnelly, when loyalists sprayed Donnelly’s bar in Silverbridge with bullets before throwing a bomb through the doors, injuring dozens inside.

Speaking on Radio Ulster following the launch of the book last Thursday, the human rights advocate described the book’s revelations as an opportunity for a small number of families to know the truth about the loss of their loved ones.

“Unfortunately it’s a small number of families,” said Alan,

“We believe that there has to be some sort of process that says this sort of information can be given to everyone, that we can in some ways start to deal with our past.  I know this is going to be hard for some people to listen to today, but the point is this is the history of these families and that has to be acknowledged.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy said Nationalists and Republicans in South Armagh “know well about the activities of the Glenanne Gang.”

Commenting on the launch of Lethal Allies, he said the gang “was made up of members of the UDR, the RUC and UVF and was, as a matter of policy, involved in the sectarian murder of over 100 people.

“The UDR based in Glenanne was a unionist militia.”

Mr Murphy urged the British government to “at the very least acknowledge its role in these killings.”

“The members of the Glenanne gang were all either directly or indirectly in the pay of the British State. That is an indisputable fact” he added,

“The families of those people murdered by the British State policy of collusion carried out on the ground in South Armagh by the UDR Glenanne gang deserve the truth. There are those within political unionism today who were in leading roles in both the UDR and the RUC, let them come forward and tell us what they know about collusion. The same individuals are very good at engaging in finger pointing at republicans about our role in the conflict. Let them now place the same focus on the role of the Glenanne gang and the role of political unionism in it.

“I commend the families of those killed by this gang and we will continue to support them in their continuing search for the truth about the role of the British State in the murder of their loved ones.”

SDLP Assembly member for Newry and Armagh, Dominic Bradley, said the publication of the book and the evidence it has uncovered meant it was time that Unionist Politicians accepted and acknowledged there were elements of the RUC and UDR who were corrupt and colluding with murder gangs.

“The question now arises as to the level at which this policy was sanctioned and by whom” said Mr Bradley,

“It is shameful that the agencies charged with upholding the law stooped to the level of the paramilitaries and engaged in a vicious murder campaign with official backing.  The activities of this group fed into the cycle of sectarian murder and lead to the deaths of many more innocent people.

“I welcome the fact that the police Ombudsman is to examine the cases outlined in this important book.”